Employers in the U.S. posted slightly more jobs in January despite harsh weather in many parts of the country, a positive sign for the labor market in coming months.
Job openings rose to nearly 4 million in January, a 1.5% increase from the month before, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That was just south of November's five-year high of 4.1 million.
Leisure and hospitality added 156,000 net openings in the first month of 2014. Construction opened up 32,000 extra slots, while education and health services added 65,000 openings.
The Tuesday report estimated that for every open job, there are about 2.6 unemployed U.S. workers. That's a big improvement from the 2009 peak of 6.7 jobless Americans per open position.
However, not all the news was rosy.
Hiring overall actually fell 0.9%, to 4.5 million, from the month prior. Although more companies are posting open positions, many are still taking their time and hiring carefully.
The U.S. economy in January added 129,000 net new jobs, the second straight month of weak gains. But February perked up with a surprisingly robust 175,000 new jobs despite continued snowstorms and bad weather.
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