U.S. employers advertised fewer job openings in August and kept hiring flat, another sign the American jobs market has lost strength since spring.

Job fair (Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images News)

The Labor Department reported Friday that job openings slid to 5.4 million in August from a record high 5.7 million in July. Hiring was little-changed at 5.1 million.

The number of people quitting jobs -- a measure of confidence in the job market -- was also essentially unchanged from July at 2.7 million. Quits have been flat for the past year after rising steadily in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.

The job market has weakened the past two months, reflecting slower global economic growth. Cautious employers added just 142,000 jobs in September, pulling hiring for the July-September quarter down to a lackluster 167,000 jobs a month from an average 231,000 from April through June.

In August, the United States had 1.5 unemployed people for every job opening, down from a peak of 6.8 in July 2009, a month after the recession ended. Unemployment was 5.1 percent in August and September.

"The labor market is coming off the boil a little," Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research report. But the level of job openings reported Friday is still healthy, "so this is hardly a disaster."


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