The numbers: The number of job openings in the U.S. fell in September just a month after setting an all-time high, but companies are still scrambling to find workers and offering higher pay and benefits to attract them.
Job openings slipped to 7 million on the last day of September from a record 7.3 million in August, dating to when the government first began keeping track in 2000.
Even after the decline, job openings still exceed the 6.1 million Americans officially classified as unemployed. Job openings first surpassed the number of unemployed in the early spring.
The share of people who left jobs on their own, known as the quits rate, was unchanged at 2.7% among private-sector employees. That’s the highest level during the current expansion and close to the record high of 2.9% set in 2001.
Workers quit their jobs more often when they feel secure enough in finding another, a sign the economy is strong. Typically workers who move end up better paid.
What happened: Job openings increased in transportation, health care and restaurants.
Somewhat fewer jobs were available in most other industries such as construction and manufacturing.
About 5.7 million people were hired and 5.7 million lost their jobs in September, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.
Big picture: The strongest labor market in decades is powering a U.S. economy that’s likely to set a record for the longest expansion ever by next year. The unemployment rate recently fell to a 48-year low of 3.7%
The shrinking pool of available labor is also forcing companies to pay higher wages and benefits to attract workers, a good thing for Americans after years of slow pay growth.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
and the S&P 500
held on to modest gains in Tuesday trades as Americans went to the polls to determine who controls the next Congress.
The 10-year Treasury yield
rose to 3.21% and moved near a seven-year high again.