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Job openings in US hit seven-month high in February as hiring slips

Workers make brackets for Chevrolet Express Vans at VIA Motors in Orem, Utah.
George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Workers make brackets for Chevrolet Express Vans at VIA Motors in Orem, Utah.

U.S. job openings rose to a seven-month high in February as the pace of hiring slipped, pointing to the further tightening of labor market conditions.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased 118,000 spots to a seasonally adjusted 5.7 million, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. That was the highest level since July and lifted the jobs openings rate to 3.8 percent after it held steady at 3.7 percent for four consecutive months.

Monthly job openings were last at 5.6 million on the last business day in January, the Labor Department reported in March.

Hiring, however, slipped to 5.3 million in February from 5.4 million in January. The hiring rate dipped to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent the prior month.

The U.S. labor market is now viewed as being near or at full employment, with the unemployment rate sitting at a near 10-year low of 4.5 percent.

Tuesday's latest data comes from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTs. The report from the Labor Department is a key barometer of economic conditions, measuring job postings in different sectors, and the number of hires and layoffs.

Monthly jobs openings are also a gauge of the U.S. economy that's closely watched by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

— CNBC contributed to this report.