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A man pushes carts at a Jewel Osco grocery store in Deerfield, Ill., on April 23, 2020.Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press

U.S. job openings fell in November, while layoffs mounted at restaurants and hotels amid rampant COVID-19 infections, supporting views that the labor market recovery from the pandemic was stalling.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, dropped 105,000 to 6.527 million on the last day of November, the Labor Department said on Tuesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. Vacancies have dropped from as high as 7.012 million in January.

The job openings rate slipped to 4.4 per cent from 4.5 per cent in October. Layoffs increased 295,000 to nearly 2.0 million. That lifted the layoffs rate to 1.4 per cent from 1.2 per cent in October. Layoffs were led by the accommodation and food services industry, which shed 263,000 workers. A resurgence in coronavirus cases has led to widespread curbs on businesses, with restaurants and bars hardest hit.

There were 42,000 job losses in the healthcare and social assistance sector. State and local governments, which are experiencing tight budgets because of the pandemic, laid off 21,000 workers.

Hiring was little changed at 5.979 million. The hiring rate was steady at 4.2 per cent.

The JOLTS report followed on the heels of news last Friday that the economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, the first decline in nonfarm payrolls since April, after adding 336,000 positions in November. The economy has recovered 12.4 million of the 22.2 million jobs lost in March and April.

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