U.S. job openings fell more than expected in April to the lowest in more than three years, a sign that labor market conditions are softening in a manner that could help the Federal Reserve's fight against inflation.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, were down 296,000 to 8.059 million on the last day of April, the lowest level since February 2021, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Tuesday in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report.

Data for March was revised slightly lower to show 8.355 million unfilled positions instead of the previously reported 8.488 million. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 8.355 million job openings in April. Vacancies peaked at a record 12.0 million in March 2022.

The number of people quitting their jobs rose 98,000 to 3.507 million in April.

Federal Reserve officials next week are expected to leave the U.S. central bank's policy rate in the same 5.25%-5.50% range where it has been since last July. They have said a rate cut will likely wait until data shows inflation, after a stronger-than-expected run during the first quarter, is headed back down toward their 2% goal. Fed officials have said that only an unexpected and meaningful weakening of the labor market could trigger a rate cut sooner than otherwise.

They have so far welcomed signs of labor market cooling as a sign of rebalancing that eases upward pressure on prices.

Financial markets are pricing in a first rate cut in September, and a second one in December.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Chizu Nomiyama)