U.S. job openings increase in September

WASHINGTON Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:14am EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. jobs waiting to be filled rose in September, giving a bit more hope to the millions of unemployed workers who have been shut out of the economic recovery.

There were 3.35 million available jobs at the end of September, up from August's upwardly revised 3.13 million, according to the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released on Tuesday.

Monthly job openings -- unfilled, posted vacancies that employers plan to fill within 30 days -- help describe demand for labor. The number has consistently hovered below the 4.4 million openings registered in December 2007, before the 2008-2009 recession.

The number of Americans without jobs has increased by more than 6 million since the onset of the recession.

Hiring also rose in September, with businesses and government hires climbing to 4.25 million from 4.06 million a month earlier. That was too small a gain to bring down the U.S. unemployment rate in September, although a modest improvement in the labor market pushed the rate down in October by a tenth of a point to 9.0 percent.

The rate at which workers were separated from jobs by layoffs or quits, a measure of labor turnover, was 3.2 percent in September.

President Barack Obama has been counting on the economic recovery to help his re-election campaign, but an unemployment rate stuck around 9 percent and painfully slow jobs growth is putting his chances of winning a second term at risk.

In a sign that workers still feel they are on weak footing, the Labor Department report showed the rate at which people quit their jobs, which can indicate workers' confidence in their ability to find new jobs, fell to 49 percent in September from 51 percent in August.

The rate of layoffs was 42 percent.

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