(MENAFN) US Labor Department unveiled a decline in job openings by 32,000 to 3.56 million in August compared to July. July's openings were also revised lower, AP reported.
The job market remains very competitive; with 12.5 million jobless in August, there were 3.5 unemployed people, on average, competing for each open job. In a healthy economy, that ratio is 2 to 1.
Companies have been cautiously filling jobs since the recession ended and often only when absolutely necessary.
Total monthly hiring has increased just 15 percent since the second Great Recession ended three years ago, even though job openings have risen nearly 63 percent in that same time.
Employers hired a total of 4.39 million people in August, the most in three months, according to the official report.
The report followed a positive report on net hiring in September, which showed the joblessness rate dropped below 8 percent for the first time in 3 and half years.
However, the job market remains weak with unemployment rate at 7.8 percent.
In general, from July through September, employers added an average of 146,000 a month. That's more than double the average monthly job growth during the previous three months.
Economists say the reason why hiring hasn't kept pace with the increase in job openings is that applicants are passing on lower-paid jobs and some employers are seeing fewer applicants with needed skills in key industries, such as manufacturing and information technology.
Businesses are also worried about slower global growth and possible recession in the US next year if policy makers fail to avoid so called "fiscal cliff".