US job openings slip to 18-month low in September, but hiring remains steady

The number of job openings in the U.S. slipped in September, the Labor Department reported on Tuesday, but the labor market still remains strong.

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The U.S. had 7 million open jobs at the end of September, according to the Labor Department's job openings and labor turnover survey, or so-called JOLTS report, in line with analyst expectations. The job openings rate fell to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent in August.

That means job postings still exceed the number of unemployed people in the U.S. by about 1.1 million, despite falling slightly (there are roughly 5.9 million unemployed people in the U.S.).

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"Slipping job openings are a sign that companies pulled back on hiring in September amid a global slowdown in economic growth, continued trade policy uncertainty, and mounting fears of a possible recession," said ZipRecruiter labor economist Julia Pollak.

The quits rate, which is viewed by policymakers and economists as a measure of job market confidence, was little changed in September at 3.5 million, or 2.3 percent.

Hires, meanwhile, increased by 50,000 to 5.9 million in September, and the hiring rate held steady at 3.9 percent.

In September, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent, a 50-year low, while the U.S. economy added 180,000 jobs. Total employment rose to 158.3 million.

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