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Job openings decrease to 5.4 million in August

Workers box jars of pasta sauce at a plant run by Chelten House Products in Bridgeport, N.J.
Jonathan Spicer | Reuters
Workers box jars of pasta sauce at a plant run by Chelten House Products in Bridgeport, N.J.

Job openings fell in August, missing analyst estimates, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Job openings decreased to 5.4 million in August, according to the JOLTS report, a measure of job openings and labor turnover in the U.S.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the index to come in at 5.63 million in August. That is lower than July's 5.75 million job openings, a series high.

JOLTS, a closely-followed barometer of labor conditions, measures employee movements in non-farm, private businesses and government, as well as job hires and separations in different industries.

The total number of job openings has increased over the past 12 months for non-farm, private businesses, and government positions, the agency said. The largest increases for the year have occurred in professional and business services and health care and social assistance. Declines occurred in arts, entertainment, recreation, mining and logging.

There were 5.1 million new hires in August, representing a hiring rate of 3.6 percent, almost flat from July. Four million, eight hundred thousand employees were laid off, discharged, or quit in August, a rate of 3.4 percent.

The number of people quitting jobs — a measure of confidence in the job market — was also essentially unchanged from July at 2.7 million, the Associated Press reported. Quits have been flat for the past year after rising steadily in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 Great Recession, the AP said.

The job market has weakened the past two months, reflecting slower global economic growth, according to the AP. Cautious employers added just 142,000 jobs in September, pulling hiring for the July-September quarter down to a lackluster 167,000 a month from an average 231,000 from April through June.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report