U.S. job openings increase by 102,000 in January

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FILE PHOTO: Job seekers speak with potential employers at a City of Boston Neighborhood Career Fair on May Day in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job openings in January increased in January, led by vacancies at wholesalers, real estate and information sectors, suggesting that a near-stall in hiring in February was probably in part because of a shortage of qualified workers.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, rose by 102,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.58 million, the U.S. Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, on Tuesday. That was not too far from a record high of 7.63 million touched in November.

The job openings rate rose to 4.8 percent from 4.7 percent in December. Hiring rose to 5.80 million from 5.72 million in December. Anecdotal evidence has been growing of companies experiencing difficulties finding workers, a phenomenon that economists expect will slow down job growth this year.

The government reported last week that nonfarm payrolls increased by only 20,000 jobs in February, the weakest since September 2017. Job gains are expected to slow to around 150,000 per month this year as workers become more scarce.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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