Interactive map: Where the jobs are

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With unemployment at decades-long highs and layoffs dominating the nightly news, it may seem there are no job openings these days.

But there were 2.4 million jobs available across the country in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. Some of the cities and industries hanging out those help wanted signs right now might surprise you.

“As companies begin to shift from more cost containment to growth strategies, many areas are seeing slight increases in available jobs,” says Allison Nawoj, spokeswoman for the employment Web site

Geographically, the South has the largest number of job openings. Meanwhile, the greatest number of job openings were found in the health care and business services industries.

CareerBuilder says it’s seeing an increase in help wanted ads, and found in a survey of 2,700 hiring managers nationwide that 20 percent were planning on ramping up hiring in 2010.

Another jobs Web site,, also saw increases in demand for workers in some industries, specifically utilities, health care and public administration. So there are jobs to be found — if you know where to look.

Here is a detailed look at the regions and industries that have the most job openings right now according to government and private statistics.

Where American jobs are
Click on the section of the country below to get a detailed report on employment in that quadrant.

“The pace of job loss has abated a bit, but we are not at bottom just yet,” says Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director for Moody’s, who adds that she suspects most areas will bottom out in the middle of 2010 and major hiring is likely to pick up in 2012.

“Broadly speaking, industries likely to pick up sooner would be manufacturing and transportation and distribution, and then business services, professional services and finance will likely come back. Consumer industries will be the last,” Koropeckyj says.

She said retail-based jobs will be among the last to return because of the collapse of so much of the nation’s home equity. Since people have less borrowing capacity, they will likely buy less, translating into a slow return for retail employment.

She also noted that even though manufacturing is likely to see a slight bump in the coming months as stores refill their drastically slashed inventories, that increase is not likely to last, as more and more manufacturing work moves offshore.

Conversely, though, that does mean transportation and warehousing will enjoy an earlier jobs recovery than most other industries, she says.

Construction is likely to be among the last industries to rebound, Koropeckyj says, because there is so much excess housing and commercial real estate inventory across the country that even with a slew of stimulus and infrastructure spending, many construction workers will remain idle.

All the news isn’t bleak, though.

According to the BLS, several industries have large number of job openings, even amid today’s historic unemployment rates:

  • Health care: 485,000.
  • Professional and business services: 436,000.
  • State and local government: 251,000.
  • Accommodation and food services: 216,000.
  • Retail trade: 208,000.
  • Manufacturing: 145,000.
  • Finance and insurance: 128,000.
  • Other services: 77,000.