A monthly gauge of online labor demand in the United States edged lower in July and its decline slowed on a year-over-year basis, suggesting some stabilization in the jobs market, a private research group said on Thursday.

Monster Worldwide Inc , an online careers and recruiting firm, said its employment index edged down three points in July to 114 from 117 in June. The current month's reading is 27 percent below the 157 mark seen a year ago.

While job openings posted online are at their lowest in nearly 2-1/2 years, there are encouraging signs that the worst of job losses might have passed, said Jesse Harriott, Monster's senior vice president.

Online job availability rose in just three of the 20 industries Monster tracks and increased in just one of 23 occupations it monitors.

Although the index is down 27 percent year-on-year, the encouraging takeaway and potential sign of stability is the fact that the index is now showing its most moderate pace of annual contraction since February, said Jesse Harriott, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Monster Worldwide in a statement.

Labor demand in the retail trade industry picked up again, while healthcare and social assistance exhibited a downward trend, Monster said.

Demand bounced back for military-specific occupations. Opportunities in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industry expanded for the first time since October last year, Monster said.

The Monster Employment index is a monthly analysis based on a selection of corporate career sites and job boards. The margin of error is approximately plus or minus 1 percent.