September 11, 2012 / 2:13 PM / 5 years ago

Job openings slip in July, hiring rate steady

People participate in a job fair in New York June 11, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. job openings fell in July, government data showed on Tuesday in a troubling sign for a labor market that is struggling to create jobs.

Job openings - a measure of labor demand - dropped to 3.66 million from 3.72 million in June, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

The hiring rate, however, was steady at 3.2 percent in July.

U.S. employers have slowed hiring since the first three months of the year, raising pressure on the Federal Reserve and on President Barack Obama, who is running for reelection in November.

In July, the drop in job openings was spread across manufacturing, health care and business services. Job openings increased in the public sector.

Worries of deep government spending cuts and higher taxes scheduled to kick in at the start of 2013 and Europe’s ongoing debt crisis might be making companies hesitant to take on workers.

However, in a more upbeat sign for the labor market, layoffs in July fell by 207,000 to 1.55 million.

The number of workers quitting their jobs, a gauge of confidence in the labor market, was 2.16 million, marginally higher than the 2.13 million quits registered in June.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by James Dalgleish

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