U.S. job openings fell in February, suggesting the labor market was losing momentum even before stringent measures to control the coronavirus outbreak shuttered businesses, throwing millions out of work.
Job openings, a measure of labor demand, decreased 130,000 to 6.9 million, the Labor Department said on Tuesday in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. Vacancies peaked at 7.5 million in January 2019. The job openings rate slipped to 4.3% in February from 4.4% in January.
Hiring was little changed at 5.9 million in February. The hiring rate held at 3.9% in February.
The report came in the wake of data last week showing the economy shed 701,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate shot up 0.9 percentage point, the most since January 1975, to 4.4 percent in March.
With 10 million people filing for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of March and millions more expected to have submitted claims last week, economists are expecting payrolls to sink by at least a record 20 million in April and the jobless rate to top 10%.
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