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Online Labor Demand Rises in January

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Press release from the issuing company

Online Labor Demand Rises 61,300 in January, The Conference Board Reports

  • Labor demand rises 61,300 in January following a 126,000 rise in December
  • Rebound in demand in Manufacturing & Construction occupations differs significantly (Page 5)
  • Note:  See Program Notes on page 8 of the pdf for 2012 HWOL annual revisions

Download the National Historical Table.

Online advertised vacancies rose 61,300 in January to 4,383,400, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series released today.  Nationally, there are 8.8 million more unemployed than advertised vacancies and the Supply/Demand rate stands at 3 unemployed for every vacancy.

“The monthly increase for the last 2 months (December and January) averaged 93,000/month, giving hope that labor demand will continue to improve,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board.  Overall labor demand has grown by over 1.6 million since the recession’s low point in April 2009.  The current monthly level of labor demand of about 4.4 million is in line with the pre-recession high in 2007 and reflects a healthy level of  turnover/churning in the U.S. labor market, which is good news for the unemployed and job changers.  However, while the gap between the number of unemployed and advertised vacancies has also narrowed to three unemployed for every ad, down from a high of 5.02 (Supply/Demand rate) at the depth of the recession in April 2009, it still remains well above the November 2007 rate of 1.73, prior to the onset of the recession.

REGIONAL AND STATE HIGHLIGHTS

In January:

  • Among the 20 largest States, California and Illinois have largest gains
  • Recent trend in labor demand for three-fourths of the largest States is either flat or positive

The trend in labor demand for the U.S. as a whole is flat; however, the trends among the largest States differ significantly.  In 5 of the 20 largest States the trend for labor demand is up (Georgia and Texas in the South, Illinois in the Midwest, and Arizona and Colorado in the West).  In another 10 out of the 20 largest States, the trend in online labor demand is flat.  On the other hand, the trend continues to be down in five other States (Massachusetts in the Northeast, Maryland and Virginia in the South, Missouri in the Midwest, and Washington in the West).  (See Table A).

In January, the West rose 8,700, reflecting gains in all 4 of its largest States.  California had the largest increase, 26,800.  Over the past 2 months California gained 38,500.  Washington was next with a gain of 2,400.  Colorado rose 2,100.  Arizona showed little change with a slight gain of 100.  Over the past 5 months, Arizona has gained 5,200 and now stands at 79,600.  Among the less populous States in the region, Utah lost 2,600,   Nevada declined by 2,100, and Oregon fell by 1,000 (Table 3).

Labor demand in the Northeast dipped 14,300 in January.  New Jersey experienced the largest decline, 5,900, and is now at 136,800.  New York fell by 1,200 while Pennsylvania (+100) and Massachusetts (no change) remained steady in January.  Among the smaller States in the Northeast, the number of advertised vacancies in Connecticut rose by 400.  Over the past two months, Connecticut has added 5,900.  Rhode Island lost 1,000 while Maine and New Hampshire fell by 600 each. (See Table 3 for other States in the region).

The South declined by 7,000 in January, reflecting losses in a number of its large States.  Florida experienced the largest loss, down 13,100, while Maryland declined 5,200.  States with gains included Texas, up a modest 4,800, bringing its gain over the last 5 months to 24,200.  Virginia rose by 3,900 while North Carolina fell by 2,100.  Georgia had a modest gain of 1,300.  Among the less populous States in the South, Arkansas gained 2,300, Tennessee fell by 3,100, and Louisiana and South Carolina were down 1,800 and 600, respectively.

The Midwest remained basically flat, with a slight loss of 1,600.  Illinois rose by 10,800.  Over the past 4 months, Illinois has risen 17,900 to a total of 169,000.  These increases were offset in part by weak labor demand in several of the other large states. Among the largest States, Michigan declined by 6,100.  Missouri and Minnesota both fell by 2,600.  Ohio and Wisconsin experienced smaller losses at 800 and 200, respectively.  Among the less populous States in the Midwest, Indiana fell by 1,800 while Kansas rose by 1,700.  North Dakota and South Dakota fell 1,500 and 400, respectively.

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in December (the latest month for which unemployment numbers are available) stood at 3.03, indicating that there are 3 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Nationally, there are 8.8 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.  

The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the Supply/Demand rate was 0.74.  States with the next lowest rates included South Dakota (1.20), Nebraska (1.36), Vermont (1.39), Minnesota (1.54), Alaska (1.59), and New Hampshire (1.63) (Table 4).  The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (6.44), where there are over 6 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Other States where there were more than 4 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy included Kentucky (4.51), California (4.36), Nevada (4.11), and Illinois (4.09).

It should be noted 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 (see Occupational Highlights section).

OCCUPATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

In January:

  • Demand for Computer and Mathematical Science and Food Preparation and Serving Related workers posts gains
  • Labor demand for Office and Administrative Support and Healthcare Practitioners workers declines (Table B and Table 7)

Changes for the Month of January

In January, ten of the 22 Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC codes) that are reported separately posted gains and twelve declined (Table 7).

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, demand for Office and Administrative Support occupations fell 52,200 to 426,800 after a gain of 15,900 in December.  Largely responsible for the decline was lower demand for Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Receptionists and Information Clerks, and Customer Service Representatives.  The number of unemployed in these occupations remains above the number of advertised vacancies with more than 3 (3.36) unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

Labor demand for Computer and Mathematical Science workers rose 19,200 to 582,600.  Over the past 2 months, labor demand has increased by 38,900.  Responsible for the rise was higher demand for Computer Systems Analysts, Applications Computer Software Engineers, and Computer Systems Engineers and Architects.  The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job-seekers by over 3 to 1 (0.27 S/D based on December data, the latest unemployment data available).

Food Preparation and Serving Related positions grew by 13,000 to 175,700 advertised vacancies in January.  First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers were largely responsible for the rise.  In Food Preparation and Serving the number of unemployed outnumbered advertised openings with 5.6 times more job-seekers than openings.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations posted a decrease of 12,900 to 580,300 (Table B).  Largely responsible for the drop were decreased advertised vacancies for General Internists and Family and General Practitioners.  The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to be quite favorable and outnumbers job-seekers by 2.4 to 1 (0.41 S/D).

Labor Demand for Selected Manufacturing and Construction Occupations

Two important U.S. economic sectors are Manufacturing and Construction.  Labor demand for core occupations in both Manufacturing and Construction turned down about two years before the official start of the recession in December 2007.  While these occupations both bottomed around the official end of the recession in June 2009, their recoveries since then paint very different pictures.  The demand for Production (Manufacturing) workers is now back up to the pre-recession series high.  In January 2012 labor demand for Production workers was 137,200, in line with the series high in December 2005.  (The HWOL series begins in May 2005.)  (See Chart 3)

Construction ads, on the other hand, have increased, but the rise has been tepid compared to the gains for Production workers.  Construction labor demand peaked in December 2005 at 116,000 and declined steadily for almost four years, to 39,000 monthly advertised vacancies in September 2009.   Since then labor demand for Construction workers has seen a slow but steady increase over the last two years.  However, by January 2012 it has regained only about half of its losses.   (See Chart 4)      

METRO AREA HIGHLIGHTS

  • There are fewer than 2 unemployed for every online advertised vacancy in 13 of the top 52 metro areas
  • Washington, D.C., has the lowest Supply/Demand rate (1.10)

In January, 45 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately posted over-the-year increases in the number of online advertised vacancies.  Among the three metro areas with the largest numbers of advertised vacancies, the New York metro area was basically unchanged since January 2011 (down 100).  The Washington, DC metro area was down 7,400, or 5.5 percent, from January 2011.  The Los Angeles metro area was up 5,000, or 3.7 percent, from last year’s level (Table C & Table 5).

The number of unemployed exceeded the number of advertised vacancies in all of the 52 metro areas for which information is reported separately.  Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.10) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker.  Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, Salt Lake City, and Oklahoma City were metropolitan locations with the next lowest Supply/Demand rates (Table C).  On the other hand, metro areas where the number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies include Riverside, CA — where there are about 8 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy (8.10) — Sacramento (4.90), Miami (4.48), Los Angeles (4.28), Las Vegas (4.12), and Chicago (3.88).  Supply/Demand rate data are for November 2011, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available (Table C & Table 6).

PROGRAM NOTES

HWOL 2012 Annual Revision

With each January press release, the HWOL program incorporates an annual revision to ensure the accuracy and consistency of the time series. This year’s revision makes adjustments to the HWOL job board coverage for 2011 and updates the seasonal adjustment factors using the latest data through December 2011. Data prior to 2011 remain unchanged except for the updated seasonal factors.

Job Board Coverage

The HWOL program collects data on a daily basis from over 1,000 online job board sources. Each year, new sources are added as they emerge while some existing sources may be dropped if it is determined that they primarily aggregate their data directly from other job boards.  In 2011, 2 job boards were suspended in July 2011 and 2 additional job boards were suspended in August 2011 as research indicated that they had recently become primarily aggregator boards with growing spidering activities. The suspensions resulted in drops in levels in both July and August. The 2012 revision removes 3 of the job boards starting in January 2011 (prior to the start of their aggregation activities) and re-instates 1 of the job boards. The impact of the revision eliminates the large July and August drops resulting in a flat 3rd quarter while leaving the other quarters of 2011 relatively unchanged. While mid-year suspensions of job boards have been relatively rare, new procedures are being investigated to minimize the impacts on monthly data due to any future job board suspensions.

 

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