Job openings fell in January from 3½ year high

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WASHINGTON — The number of U.S. jobs openings fell in January from a three and a half year high. The modest decline suggests hiring could continue at its healthy pace but may not accelerate.

The Labor Department says employers posted 3.46 million job openings in January. That’s down from 3.54 million advertised in December, the most since August 2008. The department revised data back to January 2007.

The figures follow a government report Friday that said February was the third straight month of strong job gains. Employers have added an average of 245,000 jobs per month in the past three months.

There were still 12.8 million unemployed people in January. That means an average of 3.7 people competed for each open job that month, the same as December.

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