Job openings eased in March from the highest level in almost five years, according to a U.S. Labor Department report released today.


The numbers are an indication that employers are waiting to see how the economy performs as federal budget cuts take effect, Bloomberg reported.


The number of positions waiting to be filled declined by 55,000 to 3.84 million from a revised 3.9 million the prior month that were the most since May 2008, according to the Labor Department report, which also showed hiring slowed and firings accelerated.


Companies may be reluctant to add staff amid signs the expansion is slackening this quarter as the January increase in the payroll tax catches up with consumers and across-the-board reductions curb federal outlays. 


Big gains in hiring are needed to propel wage increases and revive economic growth in the second half of 2013, Bloomberg said. Read more.