U.S. job openings rise from ’16 bottom

Michelle Jamrisko

Job openings in the U.S. rose in September from the lowest level of the year and hiring slowed, figures from the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed Tuesday.

The key points included:

■Opening edged up to 5.49 million, matching median estimate, from a revised 5.45 million in August;

■Hiring declined to 5.08 million from 5.27 million; hiring rate dropped to a four-month low of 3.5 percent;

■Some 3.07 million Americans quit their jobs, little changed from August’s 3 million and keeping the quits rate at 2.1 percent;

■Layoffs decreased to 1.47 million from 1.69 million.

Companies are limiting the number of job postings while also refraining from firing staff. The hiring figures, meanwhile, are consistent with the slowdown in payrolls additions this year as the labor market approaches full employment. The 1 percent rate of dismissals is the lowest in records back to December 2000.

All together, the employment picture is shaping up to support the case for the first increase in the benchmark interest rate this year when Federal Reserve policy makers next meet in December.

“Unlike the quits rate, the trend in the hiring rate might be pointing downward,” Joe LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York, said in a research note. “This should not be too surprising given the fact that job growth tends to slow when the unemployment rate approaches 5 percent.”

Other details from the report included:

■There were 1.4 unemployed people vying for every opening in September, compared with 1.9 people when the recession began at the end of 2007;

■Openings in construction climbed to 221,000 in September, the second-highest since early 2007; postings fell in leisure and hospitality to lowest since June 2015;

■Business services, health care and financial activities also showed increases in openings;

■In the 12 months through September, the economy created a net 2.6 million jobs, representing 62.7 million hires and 60.1 million separations;

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