WASHINGTON – Job openings fell in February for the first time in three months, a sign employers will be slow to expand staff even as firings subside.

Openings decreased by 131,000 to 2.72 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Fewer people were hired, and the number of workers fired also decreased, the report also showed.

“Conditions in the labor market will continue to be tenuous as firms look for a pickup in sales activity before increasing employment opportunities,” said Maxwell Clarke, chief U.S. economist at IDEAglobal in New York.

Employers in the world’s largest economy added 162,000 workers to payrolls in March, the most in three years, the government reported last week. The figures also showed more people had to take part-time jobs because of a lack of full-time opportunities, and the average length of unemployment climbed to a record 31.2 weeks.

Openings fell 4.6 percent in February from a revised 2.85 million in January that was larger than previously estimated.


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