Job Openings Are on the Rise

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If you're looking for a job, I have good news for you: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings increased in April by 6.6% over the same month last year.

It should come as little surprise which industries are on the hunt for the most workers. Out of 3.76 million total job openings in April, 3.3 million of which were in the private sector, the retail industry accounted for 449,000.

The performance of clothing retailer Gap last quarter provides a hint at what's driving the demand for workers. After struggling for years to increase sales, the company notched same-store sales of 3% at both its namesake and Old Navy stores over the three months ended May 4. These increases translated into a 43% rise in year-over-year quarterly profit.

A second industry that's desperate for workers is health care, which reported a total of 590,000 job openings in April. The demand here is likely a function of two trends. First, the domestic population is aging. Second, health care companies are in the midst of finalizing preparations for Obamacare.

While it remains to be seen which companies will be the biggest beneficiaries of these trends, we're already starting to see positive signs. Last week, for instance, UnitedHealth raised its dividend by 32%. As my colleague Dan Dzombak noted, the move "reflect[s] management's confidence in the future at a time when many investors are still worried about Obamacare's effects on health insurers." And this week, Susquehanna Group raised its price target on the company from $72 per share to $79.

Despite the good news on the jobs front, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are down today. The census among media outlets is that the markets are being weighed down by fears over a potential scaling-back of economic stimulus by the world's central banks -- and especially those of Japan and the U.S.

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