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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job openings rose to a seven-month high in February while the pace of hiring slipped, pointing to a growing skills mismatch and a further tightening of labor market conditions.
Job openings, a measure of labor demand, increased 118,000 to a seasonally adjusted 5.7 million, the Labor Department said on Tuesday. That was the highest level since July and lifted the jobs openings rate to 3.8 percent after holding steady at 3.7 percent for four straight months.
Hiring, however, slipped to 5.3 million from 5.4 million in January. The hiring rate dipped to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent the prior month.
"It shows you that there is one of the most gigantic skills mismatches out there across the country that we have ever seen in history," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York.
The U.S. labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment. The unemployment rate is at a near 10-year low of 4.5 percent, below the most recent Federal Reserve median forecast for full employment.
Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli