Employers posted fewer open jobs in November, the second straight month of decline after openings reached a record high in September.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that the number of available jobs slipped 0.8 percent to 5.88 million, down from 5.93 million in October. September's peak was 6.18 million.
Job openings are still 4.4 percent higher than a year ago. With the economy expanding at a solid pace and businesses confident about future demand, hiring is likely to remain solid going forward.
Still, the drop off echoes last Friday's monthly jobs report, which saw employers add 148,000 jobs in December. That is a decent total but lower than October and November job gains, which topped 200,000.
The unemployment rate remained 4.1 percent for a third month, the government said Friday.
Economists forecast that hiring may slow this year as businesses struggle to find enough qualified workers.
Here are some other key takeaways from the report:
__ Job openings fell in November in manufacturing; professional and business services, which includes engineers, architects and other high-paying jobs; and government.
__ Openings rose in construction, retail, and hotels and restaurants.
__ The number of Americans quitting their jobs fell slightly in November from October, but is still up 3 percent from a year ago. More quitting is a good sign because people typically quit for a better job, often at higher pay.
__ Total hiring also fell, to 5.49 million from 5.59 million in October. That figure represents all hiring, while job gains reported last week reflect a net figure after layoffs, quits and retirements are subtracted.
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