U.S. jobs still exceed unemployed

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of jobs posted by U.S. employers declined slightly in September but still exceeded the number of unemployed Americans and remained near a two-decade high.

The report Tuesday from the Labor Department provided the latest evidence that many U.S. companies are straining to fill jobs in the face of a robust job market with low unemployment.

The department said job openings declined 4 percent to roughly 7 million, still close to the highest levels on records dating to December 2000. The number of openings far exceeded the roughly 6 million people who were unemployed in September.

The number of available jobs, in fact, has topped the number of unemployed for six straight months. Steadily strong hiring has lowered the U.S. unemployment rate to a nearly five-decade low of 3.7 percent.

And wages have begun picking up. Average hourly pay rose 3.1 percent in October from a year earlier, the fastest year-over-year gain since 2009, the year the Great Recession ended.

Even with the dip in job openings in September, hiring remains robust. In October, U.S. employers added a strong 250,000 jobs, the government reported last week.

In September, the number of people who quit their jobs was essentially unchanged at around 3.6 million, a record high.