(Reuters) - The number of unemployed American workers for every job opening fell in February to its lowest since late 2008, pointing to ongoing healing in the still-weak labor market.

The U.S. Labor Department said on Tuesday the number of U.S. jobs waiting to be filled rose by 21,000 in February to 3.498 million.

Job openings at the end of the month - unfilled, posted vacancies that employers plan to fill within 30 days - help describe demand for labor in the United States.

February's data showed that on average there were 3.66 unemployed workers available for every opening. The ratio had shot up to nearly seven in mid-2009 when the economy still languished in recession.

Still, despite the progress made since then - the ratio in February was its lowest since November 2008 - the data shows the labor market's healing process still has a long way to go.

The number of unemployed workers per job opening was 1.7 just before the 2007-2009 recession began.