US job openings at highest level since 2001

The number of U.S. job openings rose last month to the highest level since January 2001, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

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Job openings, a gauge of labor demand, rose to 4.8 million in August, up from 4.6 million in July, while the quit and layoff figures were little at 2.5 million and 4.4 million, respectively, according to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

At 1.8 percent, the quits rate has held steady for seven consecutive months. That rate measures the number of people who leave their jobs voluntarily and is an indication of how confident employees are that they can find a better job elsewhere.

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Last Friday, the Labor Department said the U.S. added 248,000 jobs in September, handily topping Wall Street expectations for 215,000, and the jobless rate fell to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen relies on the JOLTS report as a barometer for economic conditions as the Central Bank considers its next step on monetary policy.

Reuters contributed to this report.