Job Openings in U.S. Rose in July by 178,000 to 3.04 Million

Job openings in the U.S. rose in July, a sign some employers are getting ready to expand as the world’s largest economy recovers, a government report showed.

Openings increased by 178,000 to 3.04 million, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The number of people hired fell from the prior month and separations decreased.

Companies added 67,000 jobs in August, more than forecast, after a 107,000 gain in July that was more than initially estimated, the Labor Department said last week. The jobless rate, which rose to 9.6 percent last month, will still take time to decline, restraining consumer spending and the economy.

“We’ll see a very gradual reduction in the unemployment rate,” Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics LLC in Pepper Pike, Ohio, said before the report. “Private hiring is still on the anemic side.”

Openings rose 6.2 percent in July from a revised 2.86 million in the prior month that was lower than previously estimated.

The rate of job openings rose to 2.3 percent in July from 2.1 percent, according to today’s report. Education and health services accounted for the biggest increase in available employment.

Compared with the 14.6 million Americans who were unemployed in July, today’s figures indicate there are about 4.8 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the recession began in December 2007.

August Payrolls

The report helps shed light on the dynamics behind the monthly employment figures. Payrolls at companies and government agencies fell 54,000 in August for a second month, Labor Department figures showed on Sept. 3. The data reflected a decrease of 114,000 in temporary workers that were hired for the 2010 census.

Employers took on 4.23 million workers in July, down 16,000 from the previous month, today’s report showed. Total firings, which exclude retirements and those who left their jobs voluntarily, fell to 2.12 million from 2.14 million a month before.

Government agencies dismissed 262,000 workers, including those conducting the census, fewer than the 348,000 firings in June.

In the 12 months ended in July, the economy lost 100,000 jobs, representing 50.1 million separations compared with 50 million hires, today’s report showed.

Some Hiring

Some export-oriented companies are boosting staff as the global economy shows stronger signs of growth than the U.S. Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of construction equipment, said last month it may add as many as 9,000 workers worldwide this year as sales climb in developing markets.

Northrop Grumman Corp. is among manufacturers cutting jobs. The Los Angeles-based company’s shipbuilding unit last month announced 292 reductions, with plans to slash another 350 by the end of the year, and United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney jet engine unit will trim 129 hourly employees in Connecticut.

President Barack Obama is proposing to expand tax cuts for businesses and boost federal spending on the nation’s transportation system to help bolster an economy that’s losing jobs heading into the November congressional elections.

Obama rolled out some of the initiatives on Sept. 6 in Milwaukee, calling for $50 billion in the first of a six-year program to fix roads, railways and runways and modernize the air-traffic control system.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shobhana Chandra in Washington at schandra1@bloomberg.net

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