Job openings in U.S. climbed in September to five-year high

Job openings in the U.S. climbed to a five-year high in September, indicating employers were confident about demand before the federal government shutdown.

The number of positions waiting to be filled in the U.S. rose by 69,000 to 3.91 million, the highest since May 2008, from a revised 3.84 million in August, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The pace of hiring increased.

Further gains in the job market would help drive wage growth and boost consumer spending, which accounts for almost 70% of the economy. Employers have added 186,300 workers on average from January through October, up from an average of about 173,000 in the same period last year.

“Things are genuinely getting better,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale in New York. “I don’t think we’re at the point where people will quit without having something in hand, but hopefully we’re moving in that direction.”

The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 3.85 million openings in September after a previously reported 3.88 million a month earlier.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover report is among data monitored by Janet Yellen, the nominee for Federal Reserve chairman, and helps shed light on the dynamics behind the monthly employment figures.

Payrolls expanded by 204,000 workers last month after rising 163,000 in September, a Labor Department report showed on Nov. 8. The jobless rate rose to 7.3% in October after as many as 800,000 federal workers were furloughed during the 16- day government shutdown.

Hiring Rate

Today’s report showed the number of people hired increased to 4.59 million in September, the most since August 2008, from 4.56 million. The hiring rate rose to 3.4% from 3.3% in August. The gauge calculates the number of hires during the month divided by the number of employees who worked or received pay during that period.

Job openings increased at construction companies, retailers, professional and business services, and in the trade, transportation and utility industries.

The number of total dismissals, which excludes retirements and those who left their job voluntarily, rose to 1.73 million from 1.68 million in August.

Some 2.34 million people quit their jobs in September, down from 2.36 million the prior month. The quits rate, which shows the willingness of workers to leave their jobs, held at 1.7% in September, down from a 2.1% reading when the recession started almost six years ago.

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