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US job openings slip in May, as quits reach 17-year high

Staff in a Vermont coffeeshop. The U.S. Labor Department says the most recent job report shows that workers are leaving their positions for higher-paying jobs. Photo by Anne Wallace Allen.

Businesses advertised fewer jobs in May than the previous month, but the tally of open positions outnumbered the ranks of the unemployed for only the second time in the past two decades.

The Labor Department also says the proportion of workers quitting their jobs reached the highest level since April 2001. Quits are seen as a positive sign that workers are confident they can find another job. Most people who quit do so for higher-paying positions.

The figures reflect a strong job market driven by optimistic employers seeking to expand their workforces. The most recent jobs report showed that businesses hired workers at a healthy pace and the unemployment rate remained very low, at 4 percent.

There were 6.64 million available jobs in May, but just 6 million unemployed people.

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