Despite a post-holiday hiring boost, the number of help-wanted ads posted online in February grew by only three percent over last year, according to the Conference Board.

The gains were less than half of the year-over-year growth in January, the New York-based private research group reported.

Ads posted on Web-based job boards last month rose by 565,000 to about 3.92 million, a 17 percent increase from January when hiring efforts are at a seasonal low. The strongest demand was for healthcare and technical workers.

"The softening in advertised vacancies is widespread," Gad Levanon, a Conference Board economist, said in a statement. He said ongoing declines in labor market demand and consumer confidence likely point to slower job growth in the months ahead.

The report measured job ads posted on more than 1,200 Internet job boards.