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Labor Dept.: Job Openings Rose in July But Hires Fell

More U.S. jobs were available in July though fewer people were hired, the Labor Department (search) said Wednesday.

Job openings as of the last day of July stood at 3.190 million, up 5.6 percent from 3.022 million in June. Industries including trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality continued to hire even though the number of government jobs fell and openings in the major industry category declined or were near flat.

Hiring fell 4.5 percent to 4.233 million in July from 4.433 million the previous month.

The department's monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (search) is more dated than other gauges of the job market, but it has improved as a measure since the U.S. Labor Department began adjusting the numbers for seasonal variations this year.

The report said the job openings rate crept up at 2.4 percent in June. The rate, calculated by dividing the number of job openings on the last business day of the month by employment plus job openings, has ranged from 2.0 percent to 2.4 percent since October 2001, when the U.S. economy was mired in recession.

The department said the hire rate, or number of hires in the month divided by employment, rose to 3.2 percent in July from 3.4 percent in June.

The report said July marked the 15th straight month that hires outpaced separations due to firing, layoffs, quitting or retirement. Total July separations fell 1.4 percent to 4.011 million from 4.069 million in June.

The separation rate, or number of separations in the month divided by employment, remained unchanged at 3.1 percent.

The July rate of quits, a barometer of how easy it is for workers to change jobs, was unchanged at 1.7 percent.

Last week, the department said U.S. August nonfarm payrolls (search) rose by 144,000 after an upwardly revised 73,000 increase in July. The jobless rate, however, fell to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in July.

The department also said the number of new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits in the Aug. 28 week rose to 362,000 from 343,000 a week earlier. But the four-week average for claims, considered a more accurate barometer of the jobs outlook, rose to 343,000 from 336,750. The department will issue its weekly report again on Thursday.

The Labor Department said its JOLTS report for August will be issued on Oct. 13. The data are available at: http://www.bls.gov/jlt/