Job openings rise to 14-year high

A worker polishes a 2015 Ford Mustang in Flat Rock, Mich.
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A worker polishes a 2015 Ford Mustang in Flat Rock, Mich.

U.S. job openings rose to a 14-year high of 5.1 million in February and beat estimates, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.

Economists had expected job openings to hit 5 million in January, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

February's numbers increased by 168,000 from 5 million job openings in January. Hires came in at 4.9 million in February and the layoffs and discharges rate was at 1.1 percent. Separations were little changed at 4.7 million.

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Employment was slow to grow in March, with nonfarm payrolls increasing only 126,000. The weak gains were seen as the result of bad weather, which impacted overall economic activity in the first quarter.

Job openings rose in the Midwest. Many industries including professional and business services, health care and social assistance, and accommodation and food services saw job openings increase over the year. But they decreased in mining and logging.

The number of hires was little changed in all industries over the month. Hires did increase in the Northeast and decreased in the South.

Reuters contributed to this report.