(Bloomberg) — Job openings in the United States rose to the highest level since 2001 as employers faced improving demand for their goods and services.

The number of positions waiting to be filled in the United States increased by 181,000 to 5.03 million in December from a revised 4.85 million the month before, the Labor Department reported Tuesday in Washington. The pace of hiring increased.

Employment has accelerated in the past year, helping drive confidence and fueling sales. Continued strength in hiring will probably help spur a pickup in wage growth, which has been slow to materialize throughout the recovery.

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