Job openings rose in April to the highest level since December 2008, up 3.1 million from 2.8 million in March, the Labor Department reported.

The biggest increases in available jobs were in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services. Government job openings fell by 36,000.

Economists say the rise in job openings show that employers in the private sector may begin hiring at higher levels, and is another sign that the economy is slowly recovering.