July 9 (Bloomberg) -- Job openings climbed in May and hiring picked up as U.S. companies grew more upbeat about the economy’s prospects for the second half of the year.
The number of positions waiting to be filled increased to 3.83 million from the prior month’s revised 3.8 million, which was higher than initially estimated, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Openings are hovering close to a five-year high of 3.9 million reached in February. Another report showed more small businesses signaled they plan to add workers.
The figures follow data last week showing employers, emboldened by stronger housing and auto sales that underscore sustained demand, added more jobs than forecast in June. The momentum in the labor market gives Federal Reserve policy makers room to dial back record monetary stimulus aimed at spurring growth and getting more Americans back to work.
"Businesses are beginning to hire in a steady and more meaningful manner than they have in the past," said Millan Mulraine, director of U.S. rates research at TD Securities USA LLC in New York, who projected 3.85 million job openings in May. "Hiring is not exceptionally strong but it’s steady and at fairly decent levels."
Stocks rose for a fourth day amid optimism companies will report better-than-forecast earnings for the second quarter. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.7 percent to 1,652.55 at 12:45 p.m. in New York.
Struggling overseas economies remain a headwind for American companies. U.K. manufacturing unexpectedly shrank in May, casting doubt on the strength of the recovery in the second quarter. Factory output fell 0.8 percent after a 0.2 percent decrease in April, the Office for National Statistics said today in London.
The International Monetary Fund today trimmed its 2013 forecast for the global economy. It also reduced its projection for U.S. growth to 1.7 percent from an April forecast of 1.9 percent.
"The growth in the U.S. has slowed down, and they’re catching up to that," Jay Bryson, a global economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina, said after the IMF released its report. "This is not the U.S. economy of the 1990s that was a locomotive for the rest of the world," though the U.S. remains "one of the primary engines of growth."
The U.S. job openings data puts the labor market picture in sharper focus after the June employment report.