The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that job openings increased to 3.91 million on the last business day of September, up 69,000 from August. The hires rate, which is the number of employees who were hired during the month divided by total employees, stood at 3.4%, up from 3.3% in August.

At 3.913 million, job openings are up 310,000, or 8.6%, relative to the same period last year, as shown in the chart below:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The latest job openings figure is the highest since May 2008, when it stood at 3.947 million:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Total hires were also up slightly in September, rising 26,000 to 4.585 million from 4.559 million in August. Hires also stood at their highest level since August 2008, when they were 4.609 million. Year-over-year hiring from September 2012 to September 2013 was up 8.8%:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the BLS, the number of job openings decreased month-to-month in arts, entertainment, and recreation, and was little changed in all remaining industries and in all four regions.

Job separations -- which includes quits; layoffs and discharges; and separation due to retirement, death, and disability -- stayed steady from month to month at about 4.4 million for September.

In total, the separation rate remained unchanged at 3.2%. The number of people who quit their jobs in September dipped from August but was still about 15% higher than a year earlier. People usually quit their jobs when they have another one lined up, or when they are certain they can find one. So more quits is a sign of confidence in the job market.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.