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US job openings jumped in January, before virus outbreak

Cailin Sandvig, left, and Justin Bracken, load their family car as they prepare to leave their home in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, in New York, with their newborn twins, Milo, center, and Aurelia, 10 months, to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus, Monday, March, 16, 2020. "We are fleeing the city," said Sandvig who works remotely for her job. "We are going to end up in Wheaton, Illinois, where we have a big, old house to be in with my mom that's otherwise empty." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Cailin Sandvig, left, and Justin Bracken, load their family car as they prepare to leave their home in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, in New York, with their newborn twins, Milo, center, and Aurelia, 10 months, to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus, Monday, March, 16, 2020. "We are fleeing the city," said Sandvig who works remotely for her job. "We are going to end up in Wheaton, Illinois, where we have a big, old house to be in with my mom that's otherwise empty." (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. employers sharply increased the number of jobs they advertised in January, a sign the job market and economy were in mostly solid shape before the virus outbreak hit.

Businesses, nonprofits and government agencies posted nearly 7 million open jobs in January, up 6.3% from the previous month. Hiring slowed, while the number of people quitting their jobs was largely unchanged.

Quits can be a sign of economic strength since most people quit a job when they have another lined up. Overall, the figures show that in January there were more jobs available than the number of unemployed, but that will likely change sharply as companies lay off workers and freeze hiring amid widespread closures and self-isolation intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.