Job Openings in U.S. Decreased 163,000 in September

Job openings in the U.S. dropped in September for a second month, signaling a sustained labor market rebound will take time to develop, a government report showed.

Openings decreased by 163,000 to 2.93 million, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The number of people hired rose from the prior month and separations declined.

The unemployment rate was 9.6 percent for a third month in October even as payrolls increased 151,000, Labor Department figures showed last week. Growth in the world’s largest economy may need to quicken before enough jobs are created to make up for the recession-driven loss of more than 8 million positions.

“Labor demand is simply not strong enough to support a complete job recovery,” Henry Mo, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York, said in an e-mail to clients. There is “intense competition among job seekers.”

Openings fell 5.3 percent in September from a revised 3.09 million in the prior month that was smaller than previously estimated.

The rate of job openings fell to 2.2 percent from 2.3 percent, according to today’s report. Leisure and hospitality and professional and business services accounted for the biggest decreases in available employment, while manufacturing, education and construction increased.

Compared with the 14.8 million Americans who were unemployed in September, today’s figures indicate there are 5 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the recession began in December 2007.

October Payrolls

The report helps shed light on the dynamics behind the monthly employment figures. Private payrolls, which exclude government positions, rose by 159,000 workers in October, more than forecast and the most since April, Labor Department figures showed on Nov. 5.

Employers took on 4.19 million workers in September, up 34,000 from the previous month, according to today’s report. Total firings, which exclude retirements and those who left their jobs voluntarily, dropped to 1.79 million from 1.86 million a month before. Government agencies dismissed 203,000, which includes the cuts related to the census.

In the 12 months ended in September, the economy gained 300,000 jobs, representing 50.2 million separations compared with 50.5 million hires, today’s report showed.

Federal Reserve policy makers last week announced a second round of large-scale asset purchases in a bid to spur economic growth and help reduce unemployment.

Holiday Hiring

The job market may get a boost through year’s end as retailers take on more workers for the holiday shopping season starting this month. Department store chain Kohl’s Corp. plans to hire about 40,000 people for the holiday period, 21 percent more than last year. Toys “R” Us Inc. said it may add about 45,000 employees for the season, including 10,000 at its temporary stores.

Others are starting to plan ahead. Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, plans to add 1,200 jobs in Michigan by 2013 as sales rebound.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shobhana Chandra in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at

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