UPDATE 1-U.S. job openings edge lower, quits hold steady

(Adds quits rate and ratio of openings to unemployed)

WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The number of U.S. jobopenings fell slightly in August, a troubling sign for a labormarket that is recovering at a painfully slow pace.

Job openings - a measure of labor demand - dropped to 3.56million from 3.59 million in July, the Labor Department said onWednesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

The data casts a small shadow over recent signs ofimprovement in the labor market.

Government data last week showed the U.S. unemployment rateunexpectedly dropped to 7.8 percent in September, its lowestlevel since President Barack Obama took office. That was seen asproviding a boost to Obama's re-election bid.

Wednesday's data, however, showed workers were still verycautious about the strength of the economic recovery. The rateat which workers are quitting their jobs held steady in Augustat 1.6 percent for the seventh straight month.

That rate, which measure the share of the employed who quittheir jobs, was usually above 2 percent over the few yearsbefore the 2007-09 recession.

In a brighter sign, the recent improvement in theunemployment rate, which also dropped in August, has left fewerunemployed workers chasing each job opening, despite the drop innew positions.

In August, there were 3.52 unemployed workers for every jobopening, down from 3.56 in July. Still, before the start of thelast recession that ratio was below 2 workers for every opening.

The hiring rate also improved modestly in August, rising to3.3 percent.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by James Dalgleish)

((jason.lange@thomsonreuters.com)(202 310 5487)(ReutersMessaging: jason.lange.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))