Job Openings Little Changed in May

There was little turnover in the U.S. labor market in May, and the number of available jobs at the end of the month was virtually unchanged from April, government data showed on Tuesday.

There were about 2.97 million jobs open at the end of May, a slight boost from April's 2.95 million, according to the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

The rate of hires for U.S. nonfarm jobs remained at 3.1 percent, and the separations rate rose slightly from 2.9 percent in April to 3.1 percent in May.

Hires and separations are indicators of labor movement during the month. The number of jobs open at the end of the month -- unfilled, posted vacancies that employers plan to fill within 30 days -- help describe employers' demand for labor.

The number of openings available to job seekers is still well below pre-recession levels, the Labor Department said. There were 4.4 million openings at the end of December 2007.

The unemployment rate rose in May from 9.0 percent in April to 9.1 percent, the Labor Department said in an earlier report.

The job openings report showed the rate at which people quit their jobs, which can indicate workers' confidence in their ability to find new jobs, was unchanged in May.

The rate of layoffs rose slightly during the month from 1.2 percent in April to 1.4 percent in May. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey encompasses employment data from about 16,000 establishments across the country.