WASHINGTON A measure of how many U.S. workers quit their jobs held steady in March, suggesting a recent slowdown in hiring has not triggered a major deterioration of confidence in the labor market.
The U.S. Labor Department said on Tuesday that 1.6 percent of job holders quit in March, unchanged from February.
The quits rate has trended higher since dipping to 1.2 percent in September 2009, but is still below its long-term average. Since 2000, the rate has averaged 1.9 percent.
The quits rate can act as a measure of a worker's willingness or ability to change jobs.
The layoffs rate was unchanged in March at 1.3 percent.
U.S. employers cut back on hiring in three straight months through April, heightening fears the economy was losing momentum.
But also pointing to ongoing healing in the jobs market, the Labor Department report showed the number of U.S. jobs waiting to be filled rose by 172,000 in March to 3.737 million. That's the highest level since July 2008.
Job openings at the end of the month - unfilled, posted vacancies that employers plan to fill within 30 days - help describe demand for labor in the United States.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci)