Online Labor Demand Down 77,800 In October

[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

Online advertised vacancies fell 77,800 in October to 4,735,600, according to latest data from the Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL). The October number is in line with the number of advertised vacancies in May 2012. The Supply/Demand rate stands at 2.5 unemployed for every vacancy. In September the number of unemployed was 7.3 million above the number of advertised vacancies, down from 11.8 million at the end of the recession in June 2009.

“The average labor demand for the last five months (since May 2012) is neither up nor down but basically flat,” said June Shelp, vice president at The Conference Board. Nationally the gains and losses over the last five months netted out to a very weak average of about 4,000/month. There have been some bright spots recently with construction occupations — up 16 percent since May — while labor demand since May has been flat in occupations as varied as Management, Health Care Practitioners, and Office workers and other occupations (Healthcare Support and Sales workers) have shown declines. The flat national increase belies strength in some States including Idaho and Michigan, which both increased 10 percent, and Florida, with a 9 percent increase in labor demand for the five-month period.


Recent Changes for States

In October, online labor demand declined in 39 of the 50 States in the U.S. However, all States but Vermont (which is down) and Rhode Island (no change) were above last October’s levels. Many States posted gains in the last five months, May to October 2012, though the national average was flat. Large States in the South with the largest gains in labor demand in the last five months included Florida and North Carolina (up 8.7 and 8.8 percent, respectively), and Texas and Georgia, up 4.7 and 4.6 percent. In the West, Arizona was up 15.8 percent in the last five months while California and Colorado rose 5.7 and 6.2 percent. Slow or declining labor demand in other large States over this period included Pennsylvania (down 1.8 percent) and Ohio (down 3.5 percent), while New York in the East and Illinois in the Midwest were basically flat.

Online labor demand in the South fell 26,300 in October with Texas posting the largest decrease, 5,900, for a cumulative 2012 increase of 42,100, or 13.7 percent. Next was Virginia with an October decrease of 4,000 and a ten-month increase of 16,500, or 12.1 percent. Florida dropped 3,900 in October for a year-to-date increase of 23,700, or 9.9 percent. North Carolina fell 1,800 for a cumulative 2012 increase of 17,800, or 15.2 percent. Maryland lost a mere 400 for a year-to-date gain of 10,300, or 9.9 percent. Georgia posted the only October gain, 1,700, for a year-to-date increase of 14,000, or 12.0 percent. In October among the smaller States, Louisiana rose 1,900, Tennessee gained 200, South Carolina dropped 2,100, and Arkansas fell 100.

In the Northeast labor demand fell 23,400 in October. New York led the drop with a decline of 7,600 for a cumulative 2012 gain of 18,800, or 7.4 percent. New Jersey was next with an October drop of 5,400 for a ten-month increase of 9,600, or 6.7 percent. Massachusetts lost 4,400 for a year-to-date increase of 12,700, or 10.0 percent. Pennsylvania fell 4,100 for a cumulative gain of 9,700, or 5.5 percent, so far this year. Among the smaller States in the Northeast, October labor demand decreased by 1,500 in Connecticut; 1,300 in Rhode Island, and 600 in New Hampshire and rose 200 in Maine (Table 3).

Online labor demand in the Midwest dropped 18,100 in October. Ohio experienced the largest decrease, 9,300, for a cumulative 2012 increase of 12,800, or 7.6 percent. Missouri lost 1,500 for a 2012 gain of 6,400, or 7.5 percent. Wisconsin and Illinois both dropped 1,200 in October. Wisconsin’s year-to-date gain was 2,400, or 2.5 percent; Illinois’ was 20,100, or 12.7 percent. Michigan fell a mere 100 for a ten-month gain of 17,500, or 14.1 percent. Minnesota experienced the only October increase,100, for a 2012 gain of 12,200, or 11.2 percent. Among the smaller Midwest States in October, Indiana fell 1,900; North Dakota dropped 600; and Kansas gained 500.

Online labor demand in the West rose 7,700 in October. Arizona led with a gain of 6,000 for a cumulative 2012 gain of 14,800, or 18.6 percent. Colorado rose 5,300 in October for a cumulative gain of 17,300, or 20.3 percent, for the year. California, the largest State, gained 1,200 in October and was up 67,300, or 14.5 percent, in the first ten months of 2012. Washington State rose 1,000 in October and is up 15,800, or 15.3 percent, this year. Among the smaller States in October, Oregon and Utah dropped 400 and Nevada fell 500.

The Supply/Demand rates for the States are for September 2012, the latest month available for state unemployment data. The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the Supply/Demand rate was 0.63. The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (5.31), where there were over five unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. Note that 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.


In October, 12 of the 20 largest MSAs and 27 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately posted decreases in the number of advertised vacancies.

A number of the largest metro areas have shown strength in online advertised vacancies since the official end of the recession in June 2009. Twelve have posted increases of over 100 percent: Detroit (up 143 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 139 percent), Cleveland (up 129 percent), Nashville (up 123 percent), San Jose (up 121 percent),Milwaukee (up 116 percent), Columbus (up 116 percent), Charlotte (up 112 percent), Indianapolis (up 112 percent), Denver (up 108 percent), Louisville (up 107 percent), and Birmingham (up 101 percent).

Seventeen MSAs had Supply/Demand rates in August 2012 (the latest available data for unemployment) lower than 2, indicating there are fewer than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy (See Table 6). Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.05) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker. Oklahoma City (1.17), Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.21), Boston (1.29), Salt Lake City (1.41), and Columbus (1.45) had the next lowest Supply/Demand rates.

Metro areas in which the number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies include Riverside, CA with over seven unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy (7.48), Sacramento (4.09), Las Vegas (3.71), and Miami (3.69). Supply/Demand rate data are for August 2012, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.


Among the largest occupational groups, Food Preparation and Serving Related occupations posted an October increase of 16,000 to 198,200 largely due to higher demand for First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers.

Demand for Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations rose 3,100 to 609,500 and was led by an increase in demand for Family and General Practitioners and Registered Nurses.

Sales and Related occupations experienced the largest October decrease, dropping 35,500, or 5.3 percent, to 635,500. In the Sales category the decrease included lower demand for First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers.

Other categories with October declines in labor demand included Computer and Mathematical Science, down 8,700 to 593,800; Business and Financial Operations, down 6,400 to 273,700; and Installation, Maintenance, and Repair, down 4,100 to 167,200.

Ten months into 2012 the slowdown in labor demand in recent months has impacted all of the two-digit occupational categories.  Eleven, or half, of the 22 categories have lost ground in the last five months with the number of advertised vacancies in October below the May 2012 labor demand. These categories are Production; Food Preparation and Serving-Related; Healthcare Support; Architecture and Engineering; Education, Training, and Library; Legal; Computer and Mathematical Science; Life, Physical, and Social Science; Transportation and Material Moving; Office and Administrative Support and Farming and Fishing.  However, all but two of the categories are still above their January 2012levels. Production is roughly in line with the January level while the October level for Health Care Support occupations is 8,400 below the monthly demand in January.

Production Occupations

The monthly demand for Production workers has slowed in the last six months, and the October level of 136,600 is in line with the online advertisements for workers in January 2012.  The number of unemployed workers remains well above the number of advertised vacancies with nearly 6 (5.7) unemployed for every advertised vacancy in September, the last month available for unemployment data.

Construction Occupations

Labor demand for Construction occupations, while down slightly in October, has continued to rise throughout 2012. In October demand was 92,600, almost 18,000 above the January 2012 level. The number of unemployed relative to the number of advertised vacancies has continued to improve, but it is still challenging for the unemployed looking for work. In September, the latest month for unemployment data, there were over 13 unemployed for every available ad. This is significantly better than the situation in June 2009, when there were 46 unemployed for every available ad in construction.

Computer and Mathematical Occupations

Labor demand for computer and mathematical occupations has declined over the last five months. However, the situation is markedly different from the situation for Production workers and Construction workers. In October the number of advertised vacancies outnumbered the unemployed looking for work in computer or math jobs by five-to-one, in sharp contrast to the situation for Production jobs where there were almost six unemployed for every ad and Construction where there were over 13 job seekers for every advertised vacancy.

The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine Data Series (HWOL) measures the number of new, first-time online jobs and jobs reposted from the previous month for some 16,000 Internet job boards, corporate boards and smaller job sites.

[Image Courtesy: US Bureau Of Labor Statistics]

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