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Job openings in US fall to 18-month low as hiring holds up

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US job openings unexpectedly slumped in September to the lowest level in a year and a half on broad declines across industries, another sign of moderating yet still-strong hiring.

[WASHINGTON] US job openings unexpectedly slumped in September to the lowest level in a year and a half on broad declines across industries, another sign of moderating yet still-strong hiring.

The number of positions waiting to be filled fell by 277,000 to 7.02 million, according to the Labour Department's Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, released Tuesday. The quits rate declined to a three-month low of 2.3 per cent, though still suggesting workers remain generally confident about job prospects.

The third drop in openings in the past four months continues the pullback from a record level last year. Companies have eased hiring this year amid struggles to find qualified workers and uncertainty about trade policy.

Even with the decline, the total for vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed Americans by more than 1 million.

The report follows the latest jobs report Friday showing employers added a more-than-expected 128,000 jobs in October while the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6 per cent.

Hiring increased 0.9 per cent to 5.93 million while separations increased 1.3 per cent to 5.81 million.

The drop in openings reflected declines in retail, health care, professional and business services, and construction, while all four regions of the US saw declines.

Although it lags a month behind other Labour Department data, the JOLTS report adds context to monthly employment figures by measuring dynamics such as resignations, help-wanted ads and hiring.

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