Job openings increased for a third consecutive month in July, handily surpassing economic forecasts for the month.
The number of jobs available to U.S. workers rose to 6.618 million during the month, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, released Wednesday.
That not only beat expectations for 5.95 million openings, it exceeded the upper range of estimates by economists survey by Econoday.
June’s figure was revised up to just over 6 million from 5.889 million.
Job openings represent positions available to new workers. Positions offered only internally or workers called back from layoffs are not counted in the figure.
The quits rate rose to 2.1 percent while the layoffs and discharges rate decreased to 1.2 percent. Both are positive developments. Economists believe a rising quits rate typically indicates workers are becoming more confident they can find better jobs.
Job openings rose in a number of industries, with the largest increases in retail trade, which added 172,000. Health care and social assistance openings rose 146,000, and construction openings rose by 90,000.
Manufacturing job openings rose to 408,000 from 346,000 in June.
The number of job openings increased in the South and Midwest regions.