WASHINGTON, Aug 12 (Reuters) - U.S. job openings increased to their highest level in more than 13 years in June and hiring picked up, pointing to some reduction of slack in the labor market.
Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased to a seasonally adjusted 4.67 million, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday. That was the highest level since February 2001.
Hiring, which is being closely being watched for signs of a pick-up in job growth, rose to its highest level since February 2008. Much of the increase in employment growth has been driven by a sharp decline in the pace of layoffs.
The report is one of the indicators being closely watched by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and other policymakers at the U.S. central bank.
The rise in job openings and hiring in June could fan speculation on the timing of the first interest rate increase from the Fed.
"The trajectory in improvement in the labor market we have seen continues. The question is whether we have more traction going into the second half of the year," said Sam Bullard, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Paul Simao)
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