Job openings in April soared to their highest level in almost seven years in another sign of the labor market's strength.
Employers were recruiting candidates for 4.5 million jobs in April, up from 4.2 million in March and the most since September, 2007, the Labor Department said Tuesday.
While openings surged in April, employers' pace of hiring did not change much. Hirings were 4.7 million, about the same as the previous two months, Labor said.
That's better than a year ago when they averaged about 4.4 million in the first four months of 2013, but before the recession -- in 2004 through 2007 -- monthly hirings were routinely over 5 million.
On Friday, the government reported the economy has now more than recovered all of the 8.7 million jobs lost in the 2007-2009 recession and its aftermath. In May, employers added 217,000 jobs, the fourth consecutive month that job gains exceeded 200,000.
The unemployment rate last month was unchanged at 6.3%.
Tuesday's report comes from Labor's monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which is closely followed by economists and Federal Reserve policymakers for its insights into labor market trends.
The report shows openings grew in every region of the country in April. The sharpest improvement was in the Midwest, where openings increased 13% and topped a seasonally adjusted 1 million for the first time since August 2001.
The South led in total openings, as it routinely does, with 1.6 million seasonally adjusted. In the West, openings were about 1 million and in the Northeast, 771,000.