WASHINGTON -- Job openings posted by U.S. employers slipped 0.7% in May, while hires that month tumbled 4.4% in a sign that the job market may be cooling slightly.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that employers posted 7.3 million jobs in May. They hired 5.7 million, down from the record 6 million achieved in April.
The report — known as job openings and labor turnover survey — suggests that employers remain optimistic about economic growth, just that their pace of expected hiring has slowed somewhat after more than a decade of economic expansion has pushed down the jobless rate. The number of job openings declined from a record 7.6 million.
"Today's numbers are an indication that 2019 will see a slower pace of improvement in the labor market," said Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed, a jobs site. "Last year's growth was quite strong, and a comedown from those highs makes sense."
Fewer workers left their jobs in May, as the number of separations declined 192,000 to 5.5 million. There was a meaningful decline in the number of people in Southern states who quit their jobs. An increase in quits is usually an indication that the economy is improving, since people depart their jobs with the confidence that they can find another one with higher pay. But a decline quits could signal that the job market has lost some of its previous momentum.
On Friday, the government said employers added 224,000 jobs in June as the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 3.7%.