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  • The Wall Street Journal

    WEDNESDAY, April 11, 2012 - The number of unemployed people available for each new job vacancy in the U.S. has been on the decline. In February, there were 3.66 unemployed people for each job opening, the lowest level since 2008. That is still well above the pre-recession level of 1.8 workers per vacancy but suggests the labor market continues to show slow but steady improvement.

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WEDNESDAY, July 11, 2012 - Prospects for job seekers in the U.S. improved in May. Job openings rose to 3.6 million from 3.4 million in April. Also, the number of unemployed people per job opening fell to 3.53 from 3.68, suggesting those seeking work gained an edge. But that doesn’t necessarily mean companies are hiring: Layoffs and other firings jumped in May to 1.9 million from 1.7 million.

THURSDAY, May 3, 2012 - The jobs market looks weaker compared with earlier this year. A report compiled each month by two private firms showed the U.S. added 119,000 private, nonfarm jobs in April, down from 201,000 in March. The report often diverges from the government’s official job tally—which is coming Friday and is expected to show a more-respectable 168,000 jobs were added.

TUESDAY, March 6, 2012 - U.S. services businesses slowed their pace of hiring in February from January. The Institute for Supply Management’s seasonally adjusted Services Employment Index was 55.7 in February, down 1.7 points from the previous month. Readings above 50 indicate expansion. February’s slight decline comes after the index jumped in January to 57.4 from 49.8. Employment gains also slowed among U.S. factories in February.

MONDAY, May 7, 2012 - American adults who hold college degrees are finding it easier to get jobs. The unemployment rate for those 25 years old and over who have at least a bachelor’s degree dropped to 4% in April from 4.2% in the prior month and 4.5% in April 2011. That is roughly half the overall U.S. jobless rate, which declined to 8.1% last month from 8.2% in March.

THURSDAY, April 5, 2012 - U.S. businesses that provide services increased their pace of hiring in March from February. The Institute for Supply Management’s seasonally adjusted Services Employment Index registered 56.7 in March, up one point from February. Readings above 50 indicate expansion. March’s rise comes after the index slid to 55.7 in February from 57.4 in January. Employment gains also increased among U.S. factories in March.

WEDNESDAY, May 23, 2012 - Americans stepped up purchases of previously occupied homes in April. Existing-home sales rose 3.4% from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million units, ending two months of declines. While sales are on track to eclipse last year’s dismal figure, they are still far below prerecession levels, as high unemployment and foreclosures continue to plague households.

FRIDAY, March 30, 2012 - The labor market is showing signs of health. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 359,000 last week, from an upwardly revised 364,000 the previous week. The average for the past four weeks — a less-volatile measure — dropped to 365,000 from a revised 368,500. Readings below 400,000 suggest layoffs are easing and hiring may be picking up.

WEDNESDAY, March 28, 2012 - Americans’ confidence in the economy slipped in March, after rising sharply in February. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell to 70.2 from an upwardly revised 71.6 in February. With the job market showing improvement, most Americans remain upbeat about the state of the economy, but they are becoming a bit worried about the next six months, given rising gasoline prices.

TUESDAY, April 10, 2012 - U.S. companies scaled back their hiring in March. The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index, which is made up of eight separate gauges of the labor market, fell to 107.28 in March from 107.47 in February. That was the index’s first decline since May 2011 and is consistent with a government report last Friday that showed a slower pace of hiring in March.

WEDNESDAY, April 4, 2012 - American factories saw an increase in demand during February. New orders for manufactured goods rose a seasonally adjusted 1.3% from January. The number of unfilled orders also climbed 1.3% in February, indicating that factories will need to beef up production. A separate report this week also suggested manufacturers are gaining steam after a slow start to the year.

FRIDAY, April 13, 2012 - Export growth has slowed amid a cooling global economy. The U.S. exported $181.2 billion worth of goods and services in February, not adjusting for inflation, about flat with January and below the pace of the previous two months. Exports, a driver of the economic recovery, are affected by a downturn in Europe and slower growth in developing economies like China.