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Online Help-Wanted Ads Rose in April, Conference Board Reports

By SHRM Online staff  5/6/2013
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Job vacancies advertised online in April rose by 204,300 to 5,103,100, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted Online (HWOL) Data Series report released May 1, 2013. The April gain offsets earlier losses in February and March, resulting in flat labor demand reported thus far for 2013.

The HWOL measures help-wanted advertising ( i.e., labor demand) by tracking—for more than 16,000 Internet job boards, corporate boards and smaller job sites that serve niche markets and smaller geographic areas—the number of first-time jobs posted online and jobs reposted from the previous month. Overall, the series supply/demand rate, which tracks the number of unemployed compared with the number of advertised vacancies, stands at 2.4 unemployed workers for each opening. In March there were 6.8 million more unemployed than the number of advertised vacancies, down from 11.9 million at the end of the recession in June 2009.

“For many workers looking for a new job, 2013 has been somewhat disappointing, with the number of advertised vacancies in April largely unchanged from January,” said Conference Board Vice President June Shelp. “The 204,000 rise in April is a good sign,” she noted, although there are still questions of whether the gains will hold next month and whether employers will begin to add jobs instead of just replacing separated workers.

Demand by Job Categories

In the professional occupations the only substantial rise in demand was for legal workers, up 35 percent since January, after languishing in the early postrecession recovery years. The 2013 results for the service/manufacturing occupations are mixed, with manufacturing stalling and sales and food-service openings slumping. The bright spot in this category is the building trades (i.e., construction and installation, maintenance and repair), which continue to post gains.

Among the largest occupational groups, health care practitioners and technical occupations saw an increase in ads, primarily due to increased demand for registered nurses.

Online ads for sales and related occupations increased, as did ads for management positions. Ads for business and financial operations occupations also jumped because of higher demand for personal financial advisors, market research analysts, marketing specialists and accountants.

However, online ads for office and administrative support openings decreased in April.

Demand by Regions, Metro Areas

There were gains in all four major regions of the U.S., with 44 of the 50 states reporting more job vacancies advertised online for the month. Approximately 80 percent of states reported increases above April 2012 levels.

The largest labor-demand gains in the West were reported by California and Arizona. In the South, Texas experienced the largest increases in job postings, followed by Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina. Illinois had the largest gains in the Midwest, but Wisconsin also marked its all-time-high HWOL results. Representing the Northeast region, Pennsylvania and New York reached their series high, as well.

The supply/demand rates are for March 2013, the latest month available for state unemployment data. The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the rate was 0.66. Mississippi had the highest supply/demand rate (5.31), indicating there are approximately five unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.

The supply/demand rate only provides a measure of relative tightness of the individual state labor markets and does not suggest that the occupations of the unemployed directly align with the occupations of the advertised vacancies.

April was a mixed month for metro areas, with 25 of the 52 largest ones posting increases in labor demand and 27 posting decreases. Almost half of the largest metro statistical areas have supply/demand rates below 2, indicating there are fewer than two unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.

U.S. metro areas with gains in advertised vacancies include Seattle–Tacoma, Wash.; Phoenix; and San Jose, Calif., in the West; Boston in the Northeast; and Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Miami in the South.

Related Articles:

Service-Sector, Manufacturing Hiring Expected to Continue in May, SHRM Online Staffing Management, May 2013

April Job Cuts Hit Lowest Level Since December 2012, SHRM Online Staffing Management, May 2013

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