U.S. companies in March posted the highest number of job openings in nearly four years, a sign that hiring could strengthen in the coming months after slowing this spring.
The Labor Department said employers advertised 3.74 million job openings in March, up from a revised 3.57 million in February.
The March figure was the highest since July 2008, just before the financial crisis erupted that fall.
The 4.8 percent increase in openings suggests job growth could pick up in May. It usually takes one to three months for employers to fill openings.
Still, more than 12.7 million people were unemployed in March. That means an average of 3.4 people competed for each open job. In a healthy job market, the ratio is usually around 2 to 1.