US job openings fell by the most in nearly two and a half years in August, though staying at high levels as demand for labor remains fairly strong, which could keep the Federal Reserve on its aggressive monetary policy tightening path.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, dropped 1.1 million to 10.1 million on the last day of August, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, on Tuesday.

August's decline was the largest since April 2020, when the economy was reeling from the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Data for July was revised lower to show 11.170 million job openings instead of 11.239 million as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 10.775 million vacancies.

The Fed is trying to cool demand for labor and the overall economy to bring inflation down to its 2% target.

The US central bank has since March hiked its policy rate from near zero to the current range of 3.00% to 3.25%, and last month signaled more large increases were on the way this year.