U.S. job openings hold near 13-year high in July

But more timely labour market indicators including payrolls have softened between July and August

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. job openings held near a 13-year high in July while hiring picked up, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Job openings were at a seasonally adjusted 4.673 million compared with 4.675 million in June, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday. Job openings are used to measure labour demand.

Federal Reserve policymakers are closely monitoring the JOLTS report as they mull their next step on monetary policy.

Employers hired 4.872 million people in July, up from 4.791 million in June, the report said.

While the quits rate held steady a 1.8 per cent, the overall number of Americans who voluntarily left their jobs inJuly hit the highest level since June 2008, a sign that more people are increasingly confident that they can find a better job elsewhere.

A separate Labor Department report released on Friday showed U.S. employers adding the fewest jobs in eight months in August, breaking a months-long streak of more that 200,000 new jobs every month. The U.S. economy added 142,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate felt slightly to 6.1 percent, Friday's jobs report said.

"While the recent improvement in the JOLTS data is nice, we should also note that other more timely labour market indicators (including payrolls and initial claims) have softened between July and August," said J.P. Morgan economist Daniel Silver.

Fed officials are eyeing the health of the labour market to determine when to raise interest rates.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said she is concerned about slow wage growth, the high number of involuntary part-time workers and the still-high levels of long-term unemployment.

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