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/ Source: NBC News

It turns out we may be able to breathe a little easier about the slowdown in hiring last month.

A Labor Department report Tuesday showed that job openings surged 3.4 percent to 5.1 million in February — a 14-year high. That's a clear sign that companies are willing to boost their staffs.

The figure follows a disappointing jobs report on Friday, which showed that employers added only 126,000 jobs in March. That was the weakest number in 15 months, and followed 12 straight months of job gains above 200,000.

The pickup in open jobs, however, suggests that hiring could rebound in the coming months. Businesses have been slow to fill openings for much of the recovery and may start filling more of their open jobs in April.

-- The Associated Press