Figures: The number of jobs nationwide fell in August for the third straight month and hit a year and a half low, coinciding with a decline in employment that has occurred on the backdrop of a declining US economy.
The job openings dropped to 7.05 million in August from 7.17 million last month.
Although the number of vacancies still easily exceeds the 5.8 million Americans officially classified as unemployed, they have fallen nearly 8% since the start of the year.
"If this trend continues, we will dip below 7 million soon," said Nick Bunker, an economist at the actual Hiring Lab.
What happened: The openings fell most in production and information services such as media and public relations, said Labor Department Wednesday.
Several positions were available in trade, transport and construction.
The proportion of people who left work on their own, known as the closing rate, dropped to 2.6% in August from 2.7% of private sector employees. The revised figure for July marked a recession after 2008.
Workers are more likely to quit one job for another when times are good, but stay in current jobs when times are difficult. Typically, moving employees will end up getting better pay.
The closure rate for private sector workers dropped to 1.4% at the end of the Great Recession 2007-2009 and has hovered at or near a 2.6% peak in cycles for the past year.
Big picture: The number of job openings has been gradually declining since it hit a high of 7.63 million in early 2019. Withdrawal has taken place at the same time as hiring has slowed.
Many companies had trouble finding suitable skilled workers a year ago, finding enough to fill critical positions, Bunker said. What has changed is that companies overall want to fill fewer positions.
The United States added an average of 157,000 new jobs a month during the third quarter, extending from July to September, down from 226,000 in the last quarter of 2018.
Read: The United States adds 136,000 jobs in September, unemployment hit 50 years low
Economists say a downturn in the world economy, exacerbated by the US-China trade struggle, has played a major role in curbing growth. The positive effects of the Trump tax cuts and an outbreak of federal spending last year have also diminished.
Now economists worry that the ongoing trade war could trigger a recession unless tensions are eased soon.
What they say? The number of job openings continues "to tell a positive story about the state of the labor market, but it is not as impressive as it was at the same time a year ago before trade tensions, government closure and impeachment mania began to take a toll on the economy," says Ward McCarthy, Chief Financial Officer of Jefferies LLC.
Market reaction: Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, + 0.63%
and S&P 500
SPX, + 0.75%
rose in trading on Wednesday, stopping at least temporarily a recent slide.
The 10-year Treasury
TMUBMUSD10Y, + 2.34%
edged up to 1.55%. Dividends have fallen from a seven-year high of 3.23% one year ago to worries about the economy.