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US job openings unexpectedly grew in August

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2020 file photo, a "Now Hiring" sign hangs on the front wall of a Harbor Freight Tools store in Manchester, N.H. U.S. employers cut back sharply on hiring in December, particularly in pandemic-hit industries such as restaurants and hotels, as soaring virus infections and government restrictions weakened the economy that month. The number of available jobs rose slightly and layoffs fell, according to the Labor Department’s Tuesday report, known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

MINNEAPOLIS (CNN) — The number of job openings at US employers unexpectedly surged in August, a testament to the continued strength of the labor market, according to new data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were an estimated 9.61 million open jobs in August, according to the BLS’ latest monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report. That’s up from July’s upwardly revised estimate of 8.92 million openings.

The consensus estimate from economists was for 8.8 million openings, according to Refinitiv.

Still, the overall trend remains downward.

The report also showed that the number of new hires ticked up to 5.86 million from 5.82 million in July, the number of workers quitting their jobs increased to 3.64 million from 3.62 million and layoffs held steady at 1.68 million.

Federal Reserve officials have frequently pointed to the robust labor market, particularly the imbalance of job postings to job seekers, as a key factor in helping to lower inflation.