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Online Labor Demand Up 232,000 in June

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Press release from the issuing company

Online advertised vacancies rose 232,000 in June to 4,947,100, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series released today. Following little growth in the first two months of the second quarter, June closed out the quarter with a strong gain. The Supply/Demand rate stands at 2.7 unemployed for every vacancy.

“Online labor demand in the first half of 2012 increased by an average of 104,000 per month, but about one-third of both the States and the 100 largest metro areas are still below their pre-recession highs for labor demand,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board.  “As of June, almost half of the occupational groups have Supply/Demand rates at or below 2.0. However, most of these are in the professional categories, such as business and finance, healthcare professionals, and management. Although we’ve seen improvement, other categories like construction, building and grounds maintenance, and personal care are still struggling with high Supply/Demand rates.”


  • Labor demand rises in the 20 largest States in June

Changes for the Month of June
June was a positive month for online labor demand in 44 of the 50 States in the U.S. (Table 3). Among the nine Census regions, the largest gain (relative to the size of the region) was in the Mountain region (Nevada, Arizona, Colorado), where online advertised vacancies rose 28,300, or 8.6 percent. The smallest gain was in the East South Central region (Mississippi, Kentucky), up 6,800, or 3.4% (Table 1).

Among the 20 largest States, online labor demand in the South rose 93,000 in June (Table A). Texas was up 23,500 in June, posting its tenth consecutive monthly gain and an increase of 16.2 percent in the first half of 2012. The June increase included increased online ads for a diverse list of jobs that included nurses, truck drivers, web developers, and elementary school teachers. Florida was next with a gain of 15,400 that, in addition to nurses, included web developers and paralegals. Maryland increased by 8,400; Virginia, by 8,000; North Carolina, by 7,500; and Georgia, by 6,800, its fourth consecutive monthly gain.  Among the smaller States in the South, South Carolina gained 4,000; Louisiana gained 3,100; and Tennessee gained 1,300. Arkansas lost 200.

In the West online labor demand rose 75,500 in June. California, the largest State  rose 35,300 (or 7 percent) in June and was up 74,000, or 16 percent, in the first half of 2012. Arizona was next with a gain of 9,300 that included gains for computer software engineers and electricians. Labor demand in Washington rose 6,300.  Colorado gained 4,700.  Among the smaller States in the region, Nevada increased by 4,900; Oregon, by 3,300; and Utah, by 2,700 (Table 3).

Online labor demand in the Midwest rose by 56,600 in June. Michigan gained 11,300 in June and was up 13.1 percent in the first half of 2012. The monthly gain for June included more ads for diverse occupations including industrial engineers, truck drivers, and lawyers. Illinois was next with a gain of 9,600 for a four-month gain of 23,000. Ohio rose by 7,900; Minnesota, by 6,600; Wisconsin, by 4,900; and Missouri, by 4,300. Among the smaller Midwest States, Indiana gained 6,200 and Kansas rose 3,900 while North Dakota fell by 2,100 and South Dakota lost 200.

Online labor demand in the Northeast rose by 56,200 in June. New York rose 17,400 in June for its fifth consecutive monthly gain. Massachusetts rose 10,100, its seventh consecutive monthly gain, and included increases for a variety of computer occupations and accountants. New Jersey gained 8,100. Pennsylvania gained 5,600. Among the smaller States in the Northeast, labor demand increased by 4,000 in Connecticut; 1,300 in Maine; 1,200 in New Hampshire; and 900 in Rhode Island (Table 3).

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in May (the latest month for which the national unemployment number is available) stands at 2.70, indicating that there are 2.7 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. Nationally, there are 8 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.

The Supply/Demand rates for the States are also for May 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 0.57. The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (4.99), where there were nearly 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 (see Occupational Highlights section).


  • All 20 of the largest metro areas posted gains in labor demand in June
  • 8 of the 20 largest metro areas have supply/demand rates below 2, indicating that there are fewer than two unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy

In June, all of the 20 large MSAs and in fact all of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately showed increases in the number of advertised vacancies (Table 5).

A number of the largest metro areas have shown strength in online advertised vacancies since the official end of the recession in June 2009. Eleven have posted increases of over 100 percent: Cleveland (up 153%), Detroit (up 146%), Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 144%), Columbus (up 125%), Milwaukee (up 125%), San Jose (up 120%), Indianapolis (up 119%), Louisville (up 112%), Nashville (up 110%), Charlotte (up 107%), and Denver (up 101%).

Sixteen MSAs had Supply/Demand rates in May 2012 (the latest available data for unemployment) lower than 2, indicating there are fewer than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy (See Table B). Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.11) with just over one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker. Oklahoma City (1.23), Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.24), Boston (1.31), Cleveland (1.58), and Salt Lake City (1.59) 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 nearly eight unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy (7.96); Sacramento (4.60); Las Vegas (4.13); Los Angeles (4.03); and Miami (3.97).  Supply/Demand rate data are for May 2012, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available (Table B & Table 6).


  • In June all of the 22 major occupational groups in the Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) posted gains (Table C and Table 7)

Occupational Changes for the Month of June
Among the top ten occupational groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, labor demand for Computer and Mathematical Science workers rose 42,400 to 651,200. The rise was due to increases in demand for Web Developers, Computer Applications Software Engineers, Computer Support Specialists, and Network and Computer Systems Administrators. The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job-seekers by 4.5 to 1 (0.22 S/D based on May data, the latest unemployment data available).

Labor demand for Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations rose 28,800 in June to 615,800. Largely responsible for the gain were increased advertised vacancies for Registered Nurses and Physical therapists. The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to be quite favorable with demand outnumbering job-seekers by over 2 to 1 (0.44 S/D).

Labor demand for Sales and Related workers rose 15,400 to 634,600 (Table C) and was led by an increase in demand for Financial Services Sales Agents, Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives, and First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Non-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 2.09), but is substantially below the four unemployed for every available advertised vacancy in June 2009.

Business and Financial Operations positions increased by 15,300 to 283,000 advertised vacancies in June.  Personal Financial Advisors, Accountants, Loan Officers, and Personnel Recruiters were among the advertised vacancies that showed increases. In this field there are 1.13 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy.

Demand for Management occupations rose 13,200 to 471,600. Responsible for the rise was higher demand for Medical and Health Services Managers, Sales Managers, and Marketing Managers. The number of unemployed in these occupations was 1.50 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in June and was significantly below the almost three (2.9) unemployed for every advertised vacancy at the HWOL series high in October 2009.

Office and Administrative Support occupations rose 12,800 to 516,400 with a gain of 89,500 since January.  Largely responsible for the June increase was higher demand for Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, Medical Secretaries, and General Office Clerks. The number of unemployed in these occupations remains above the number of advertised vacancies with 3.07 unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

Highlights of the first half of 2012

   States and Metropolitan Statistical Areas

The largest contributors to the 625,000 national increases in online vacancies in the first six months of 2012 are the most populous States — California (74,000), Texas (49,800), New York (36,600), Florida (17,900), Illinois (30,700), and Pennsylvania (18,600). Together these six states made up over one-third of the increase. However, all of the States — with the exception of Vermont, which dipped slightly — posted online gains in the first six months of 2012. Size is important, and, while States with smaller populations contributed less to the national total, several posted substantial percentage increases. Nebraska rose 9,700, or almost one-third, to 40,100.  Other states with increases in excess of 20 percent included Kansas (up 8,000 to 41,300) and Oklahoma (up 11,100 to 58,100).

States that were in low gear over the last six months included several states such as Rhode Island, up 644 to 18,900; Mississippi, up 1,300 to 23,000; and West Virginia, up 1,100 to 20,100.

“Labor demand is only half the story,” said Shelp. “The number of unemployed for every advertised vacancy (i.e. Supply/Demand rate) is also important, and this varied widely among States.”  

The States that posted the largest gains relative to their sizes — Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma — were also ones with lower Supply/Demand rates. Nebraska’s Supply/Demand rate was 1.06, Oklahoma’s was 1.60, and Kansas’s was 2.44.  On the other hand, in the States with low increases in labor demand in the first six months of 2012, the number of unemployed workers for every ad ranged from 2.83 in West Virginia, 3.40 in Rhode Island, and 2.99 in Mississippi.


In the first six months of 2012, advertised vacancies rose in all of the 22 major occupational categories but not all categories reached their pre-recession highs. Advertised vacancies in 2012 in management, architecture and engineering, and community and social service were roughly in line with their pre-recession levels. Food preparation and serving, building and grounds maintenance, and sales positions reached new highs, making the search for jobs in these occupations easier. On the other hand, Office and Administration, Construction, and Legal, while posting gains, remained below their pre-recession highs.   

“Again, labor demand is only half of the story,” said Shelp. “You also have to look at the number of unemployed seeking jobs in these occupations. For example, the increased number of online advertised vacancies in all categories made the search for jobs easier, but looking for work was still a struggle for many job-seekers.”  

In Food preparation and serving, for example, the number of unemployed for every advertised vacancy fell from 14.3 unemployed for every online ad in May 2009 to about 4.1 in May 2012 (the last month where unemployment data are available).

Elsewhere, while the number of legal jobs (lawyers, paralegals, tax examiners, and court reporters) was still below pre-recession highs, the number of advertised vacancies was up 8,400 in 2012. The Supply/Demand rate stood at 1.4, indicating there was just over one unemployed worker for every advertised vacancy, a significant improvement from the approximately 2.75 in early 2011. “One cautiously optimistic story for the first half of 2012 is the increase in jobs for the legal profession,” said Shelp. “However, many of the advertised jobs may be for not full-time legal work but rather part-time or contract positions.”    

On the other hand, increased demand can be a sign of not having a sufficient number of qualified candidates. In Computer and Math occupations, for example, the number of ads increased 87,800 in the first six months of 2012. In June 2012 there are 4.5 ads for every unemployed person compared to 1.6 ads per unemployed in April 2009, signaling a continuing inability of employers to find qualified candidates even with over 12 million unemployed workers in the United States.


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 about 1,000 major Internet job sites and smaller job sites that serve niche markets and smaller geographic areas.

Like The Conference Board’s long-running Help Wanted Advertising Index of print ads (which was published for over 55 years and discontinued in May 2008) the online series is not a direct measure of job vacancies. The level of ads in print and online can change for reasons not related to overall job demand.

The HWOL data series began in June 2005.  With the September, 2008 release, HWOL began providing seasonally adjusted data for the U.S., the nine Census regions and the 50 States.  Seasonally adjusted data for occupations were provided beginning with the June 2009 release and seasonally adjusted data for the 52 largest metropolitan areas began with the June 2012 release.    

People using this data are urged to review the information on the database and methodology available on The Conference Board website and contact us with questions and comments. Background information and technical notes and discussion of revisions to the series are available at:

The underlying online job listings data for this series is provided by Wanted Technologies Corporation.  Additional information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data used in this release can be found on the BLS website,


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