February Had the Most New Job Openings Since 2004

However, there are still 20 million Americans who want and can't find a job

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A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there were 352,000 new job openings in the U.S. in February--the highest month-over-month increase since December 2004. Overall, there were 3.1 million job openings by the end of February, the most since September 2008. It's just the latest in a by-now lengthy series of encouraging economic indicators to come out this winter and spring.

Not all the new jobs are at McDonald's, either: Bloomberg notes that "the gain was led by a 216,000 increase in openings at professional and business services, which include accountants, computer systems experts and temporary-help agencies." The leisure and hospitality industry added 81,000 job openings, while government added 11,000.

Other tidbits from the report: Hiring was up in February (3.91 million, a gain of 138,000 over the previous month), but so was firing (1.59 million, up from 1.54 million in January). And lots of people are just straight-up quitting their jobs. About 1.92 million people quit in February--this was about 51 percent of all separations, or more than layoffs and firings combined.

The New York Times characterizes the report as "very good news" and "a welcome development." And Bloomberg optimistically notes that all the job-quitting "may be one sign Americans feel more confident about finding other work."

But not everyone sees the glass half full. The Economic Policy Institute points out that "February marks 26 months that the 'job-seeker's ratio' has been substantially above the 4-to-1 ratio," and that means that "for 3 out of 4 unemployed workers, there simply are no jobs." And Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic backstops the celebration with a reminder that "over 20 million Americans want a job, but do not have one. While the trend of more openings is encouraging, the bigger picture for job seekers remains bleak."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.