Washington, DC - The number of job openings hit a record high of 7.3 million in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday in a sign of the labor market’s strength.

The private sector drove the new record, with private entities accounting for 6.7 million job vacancies — also a record high. The construction industry recorded 382,000 new posts, far more than ever before.

In the past three months, the economy has added an average of 241,000 net new jobs a month, more than twice as much as needed to keep up with population growth and keep unemployment trending down.

As a result, more of the population is working. For prime-age workers, meaning those between ages 25 and 54, the total employment rate rose to 79.9 percent in January, the highest such rate since the financial crisis hit.

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