U.S. job openings dipped in June

Job openings in the U.s. remain near record highs.

The numbers: Job openings nationwide fell slightly in June but topped 7 million for a record 15th month in a row, reflecting the strongest labor market in decades even as the U.S. faces stiffer economic challenges.

Open jobs slid to 7.35 million in June from 7.38 million, the government said Tuesday. The record, set near the end of last year, is 7.6 million.

What happened: Job openings rose in retail and real estate, .

Fewer jobs were available in construction, leisure and hospitality.

Companies hired 5.7 million people in June. Separations — people who quit, retire, die or get laid off — totaled 5.15 million. But figures were little changed from the prior month.

Similarly, the government’s own tally for employment growth for the month showed an increase of 193,000 new jobs.

For the 16th straight month, job openings outnumbered the unemployed. There were 1.25 million more job listed jobs than the 6.1 million people officially classified by the government as unemployed

The share of people who left jobs on their own, known as the quits rate, was unchanged at 2.5% among private-sector workers. That’s just a hair below the post 2008 recession peak of 2.6%.

The rate for all workers, including government employees, was also flat at 2.3% for the 13th month in a row.

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More people quitting is seen as a good sign because it means workers feel secure enough to leave one job for another. Workers who switch usually end up getting better pay.

Big picture: The U.S. is not adding as many jobs now as it was last year, when tax cuts and higher government spending gave the economy a lift. Hiring has been dampened by a growing scarcity of skilled labor as well as ongoing trade tensions with China that have hurt exporters and manufacturers.

The labor market is still quite strong, however, and that’s helping to extend what’s already the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. The big question on the minds of investors is whether the escalating trade fight with China does more damage to the U.S. and global economies.

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What they are saying? “The labor market isn’t adding as many jobs right now, but it also isn’t losing them,” said Indeed Hiring Lab economist Nick Bunker. “Employer demand is slowing down, and the labor market isn’t improving at the rate that it as before, but things aren’t getting worse.”

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index rose in Tuesday trades, aiming to break a string of six straight losses. Stocks have tumbled on heightened trade tensions with China.

The 10-year Treasury yield edged up to 1.77%. Just 10 months ago, the yield stood at a seven-year high of 3.23%.

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