WASHINGTON - U.S. workers were reluctant to quit their jobs in September as businesses showed no signs of increased hiring, a government report showed on Tuesday.

The job separations rate, a measure that covers all terminations of employment, stood at 3.3 percent in September, unchanged from the previous month, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

The quits rate, a subset of total separations and a barometer of how easy it is for workers to change jobs, remained unchanged in September at 1.4 percent, suggesting a lack of confidence in the economy jump-starting job growth.

The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter for the first time in more than a year as government stimulus helped lift consumer spending and home building.

Although fewer people are losing their jobs as the economy inches forward, the jobless rate rose to 10.2 percent in October, the highest in 26-1/2 years.

Over the 12 months ended in September, the quits rate was lower for total non-farm, total private, government, the majority of industries, and in the South, Midwest, and West regions, the Labor Department said.

While the rate of hiring in September was unchanged at 3.1 percent in September, the number of people hired has declined by 1.6 million since July 2006, the department said.

Over the 12 months ended in September, the rate of hiring fell in total non-farm, total private, and for government jobs, the department said.

The job openings rate, a gauge of how many jobs were still open at the end of the month, rose to 1.9 percent from 1.8 percent in August, according to the report. The number of job openings has fallen by 2.3 million since June 2007.

The government survey lags many job market gauges, but it can provide additional insight into labor market dynamics.

Over the 12 months ended in September, hires totaled 50.4 million and separations totaled 55.6 million, yielding a net employment loss of 5.2 million, the survey showed.

(Reporting by Nancy Waitz; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)