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Online Labor Demand Rises in March

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Press release from the issuing company

Online advertised vacancies rose 246,300 in March to 4,669,600, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series released today.  The March rise is the fourth consecutive monthly rise.  The Supply/Demand rate stands at 2.9 unemployed for every vacancy; however, nationally there are still 8.4 million more unemployed than advertised vacancies.

“The March sharp rise in labor demand continued to narrow the gap between the unemployed and available job opportunities,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board (Chart 1).  Nationally advertised vacancies are 60 percent above their levels in June 2009, the official end of the great recession.  However, that increase has varied greatly among the States with some Midwestern States exceeding the national average, including Minnesota (+ 121%); Ohio (+ 102%); Wisconsin (+ 95%); Indiana (+ 92%); and Michigan (+86%).  Some states where the housing market tank — including Nevada (+ 21%) and New Mexico (+ 24%) — remain well below the national average while other States like Florida (+50%), where the housing market was also an issue, showed more resiliency.


  • In March all of the largest States except Pennsylvania post gains
  • 12 of the 20 largest States are on an upward trend in job demand

In March the South gained 74,700 advertised vacancies, with gains in all six of its largest States.  Texas was up 19,000, reflecting increases of 11%+ over the last four months for labor demand in the metro areas of Austin, Dallas, and Houston.  Virginia gained 9,200 for a combined three-month gain of 14,300.  North Carolina rose 6,700 bringing its two-month increase to 8,500.  Maryland gained 5,800 for a combined two-month gain of 9,600.  Georgia was up 4,800 in March.  Florida rose 2,400.  Among the less populous States in the South, Tennessee rose 7,800, South Carolina increased by 1,600, Louisiana gained 1,200, and Arkansas gained 900.

The West gained 61,700 advertised vacancies, reflecting gains in all four of its largest States.  California had by far the largest increase, 23,300.  Over the past four months, labor demand in California was up 80,200 with gains in all of its larger metro areas, led by notable increases of 21.7 percent in San Diego and 20.6 percent in Sacramento.  Washington State gained 9,600.  Colorado rose 4,400 while Arizona gained a mere 500.  Among the less populous States in the region, Oregon rose 4,300; Nevada gained 2,600; and Utah rose 1,500 (Table 3).

The Midwest region gained 48,800 vacancies in March.  Ohio experienced the largest gain — 8,700 — and, at 181,900 advertised vacancies, reached its highest level since the HWOL series began in May 2005.  Minnesota rose 6,700. Missouri rose 5,600 for a combined two-month gain of 8,200. Michigan gained 5,200 for a two-month gain of 6,500.  Wisconsin rose 4,700.  Illinois gained 1,600.  Among the less populous States in the Midwest, Indiana gained 5,100, Kansas rose 1,800, South Dakota gained 1,300, and North Dakota rose 600.

Labor demand in March in the Northeast  rose 23,100, which included a rise of 9,300 in New York.  New York is up 17,700 over the last four months with the New York metro area up 14.8 percent and Rochester up 12.2 percent.  New Jersey rose 7,100 while Massachusetts gained 4,900 for a combined four-month gain of 11,500.  Pennsylvania was down 1,700 in March.  Among the smaller States in the Northeast, the number of advertised vacancies in Connecticut fell by 300.  Maine rose 1,000 in March while New Hampshire gained 1,400 and Rhode Island gained 300 (See Table 3 for other States in the region).

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in February (the latest month for which the national unemployment number is available) stood at 2.90, indicating that there are just under 3 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Nationally, there are 8.4 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.  

The Supply/Demand rates for the states are for February 2012, the latest month available for unemployment data.  The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the Supply/Demand rate was 0.88.  States with the next lowest rates included South Dakota (1.23), Nebraska (1.28), Vermont (1.41), Alaska (1.56), Minnesota (1.60), and New Hampshire (1.68) (Table 4).  The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (5.97), where there are nearly 6 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Other States where there were more than 4 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy included Nevada (4.42) and Kentucky (4.13).  

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).


  • 19 of the 20 largest metro areas posted gains in labor demand in March
  • San Francisco up 7 percent in March (Table C).

In March, 19 of the 20 large MSAs posted increases in the number of online advertised vacancies.  Overall 47 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately also showed increases in March (Table 5).

A number of the largest metro areas have shown real strength since the official end of the recession in June 2009.  Four have posted increases of over 100 percent since then: Cleveland, up 142%; Minneapolis-St. Paul, up 124%; Detroit, up 116%; and San Jose, up 112%.

Six MSAs had Supply/Demand rates in January 2012 (the latest available data for unemployment) below 2, indicating there fewer than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy (See Table C).  Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.21) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker.  Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.36), Boston (1.54), Oklahoma City (1.63), and Salt Lake City (1.67) were metropolitan locations with the next lowest Supply/Demand rates. 

Metro areas where the number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies include Riverside, CA — with over 8 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy (8.23) — Sacramento (4.56), Miami (4.53), Las Vegas (4.47), Los Angeles (4.19), and Memphis (4.04).  Supply/Demand rate data are for January 2012, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available (Table C & Table 6).


  • Supply/Demand rates range widely for the 22 major occupational categories (See Table 7)
  • Labor demand for retail sales help rises in March (Table B and text)

Demand for Healthcare practitioners dipped in March but job opportunities continue to outnumber unemployed looking for jobs 

Changes for the Month of March

In March, nineteen of the 22 Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC codes) that are reported separately posted gains and three declined (Table 7).

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, demand for Sales and Related workers rose 35,900 to 596,500 (Table B) and was led by an increase in demand for Retail Salespeople and First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers.  The number of unemployed in this occupational category continues to outnumber the number of advertised vacancies by over 2 to 1 (S/D of 2.30) but is substantially below the slightly over four unemployed for every available advertised vacancy in April and May 2009.

Labor demand for Computer and Mathematical Science workers rose 25,800 to 620,700.  Over the past four months, labor demand has increased by 77,100.  The higher demand included increases for Computer Systems Analysts and Applications Computer Software Engineers.  The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job-seekers by over 3 to 1 (0.28 S/D based on February data, the latest unemployment data available).

Demand for Management occupations rose 25,700 to 461,200 for a combined four-month increase of 56,600.  Responsible for the rise was higher demand for Marketing Managers and General and Operations Managers.  The number of unemployed in these occupations was just over one (1.39) unemployed for every advertised vacancy in March and significantly below the almost three (2.9) unemployed for every advertised vacancy at the HWOL series high in October 2009.

Labor demand for Office and Administrative Support occupations rose 22,700 to 476,900 for a gain of 50,100 since January, but the March level is still slightly below the level of demand in late 2011.  Largely responsible for the March increase was higher demand for Customer Service Representatives and Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants.  The number of unemployed in these occupations remains above the number of advertised vacancies with close to 3.6 unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

Business and Financial Operations positions increased by 17,100 to 268,100 advertised vacancies in March.  Accountants, Training and Development Specialists, and Financial Analysts were among the advertised vacancies that showed increases.  In this field there are 1.56 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations fell 18,800 in March to 578,100.  Largely responsible for the drop were decreased advertised vacancies for Registered Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, and Physical Therapists. 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).

The Trend in Production Occupations

In March the demand for production workers reached a series high of 148,000 — 6,000 above last month’s number and 10,000 above the previous series high of 138,000 in December 2005.  Production jobs, or the jobs typically associated with manufacturing, declined sharply from early 2007 and bottomed in May 2009 at 56,000.  “Labor demand for production workers, which was not consistently strong in 2011, has risen over the last few months and hopefully will remain strong throughout 2012,” said Shelp (Chart 3).

There were still over six unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy in production jobs, but it is significantly improved form the situation in June 2009, when there were over 25 unemployed for every vacancy, (See Table 7).

Nationally the production jobs in highest demand included First-Line Supervisors and Managers, Machinists, and Helpers.  Line Supervisors and Managers were in high demand in several states including California, Ohio, and Texas.  In California, in addition to supervisors, online advertised jobs included Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers, and Machinists.  In Ohio the openings are in First-Line Supervisors / Managers of Production and Operating Workers, Helpers – Production Workers, and Machinists.  High-demand opening in Texas include First-Line Supervisors / Managers of Production and Operating Workers, Welders, Cutters, and Welder Fitters, and Machinists.


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