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November 6, 2018 3:30 PM, EST

Job Openings Drop From Record; Quit Rate Stays Elevated

Job Fair Gabby Jones/Bloomberg News

U.S. job openings fell in September from a record in the previous month while Americans continued to voluntarily leave their positions at the highest rate since 2001, Labor Department data showed Nov. 6.

The number of positions waiting to be filled decreased to 7.01 million from an upwardly revised 7.29 million in August, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS.

Hiring fell to 5.74 million from 5.91 million; the hiring rate decreased to 3.8%.

The quits rate unchanged at 2.4%; 3.6 million Americans quit their jobs, down from 3.65 million.

Job Graph

While the number of openings showed slightly less demand for workers, the elevated quits rate continued to indicate that Americans are confident in leaving their jobs for better pay or benefits elsewhere.

The decline in vacancies reflected drops in professional and business services, financial activities and construction. Openings increased in trade, transportation and utilities; health care and social assistance; and accommodation and food services.

Job Graph

Labor Department data last week showed that employers added a better-than-expected 250,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate held at a 48-year low and annual wage gains topped 3% for the first time since 2009.

Although it lags the Labor Department’s other jobs data by a month, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly employment figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and the pace of hiring.

Layoffs declined to 1.7 million from 1.79 million; the layoffs rate fell to 1.1%. There was 0.9 unemployed persons per job opening, compared with 1.9 people when the recession began at the end of 2007.

In the 12 months through September, the economy created a net 2.5 million jobs, representing 67.5 million hires and 65.1 million separations.