US

US job openings fall from near 5½-year high, hiring slips in latest signs of weaker job market

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, file photo, job seekers sign in before meeting prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. The Labor Department releases the  job openings and labor turnover survey for December on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, file photo, job seekers sign in before meeting prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. The Labor Department releases the job openings and labor turnover survey for December on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in December and hiring slowed, adding to evidence that the job market weakened that month.

Still, the number of available jobs remained near a 5½-year high. The Labor Department says that job openings slipped 1 percent to 3.99 million in December, from 4.03 million in the previous month. November's total was the first time that available jobs had topped 4 million since March 2008.

Total hiring fell to 4.4 million from 4.5 million in November. While job openings are mostly back to pre-recession levels, hiring is below the roughly 5 million a month that's typical for a healthy market.

Last week's jobs report showed that job gains in January were tepid for the second straight month. The unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent.