REGIONAL AND STATE HIGHLIGHTS
- The Midwest and West dip while the Northeast and South hold steady
- Pennsylvania, among the 20 largest States, is flat while other States show an overall downward trend
In October, the Midwest dipped 14,500, reflecting losses in 5 out of 6 of its largest States. Minnesota was the only one of the larger states posting a gain (+2,500) in October. This was the first monthly gain for Minnesota since June 2011. Ohio and Michigan experienced declines of 3,900 and 3,100 respectively in October while advertised vacancies in Missouri were down 2,100. Illinois and Wisconsin dropped 1,400 and 600 respectively, and both were states that have seen declines in advertised vacancies over the last few months. Among the less populous States in the region, Indiana and Iowa fell 1,900 and 1,300 respectively while North Dakota and South Dakota gained 500 and 200 respectively.
Labor demand in the West was down slightly by 13,900 in October and was led by Washington State, which lost 9,300. California, the region’s largest State, rose 1,900 after a combined loss of 59,000 for the previous four months. Arizona remained virtually unchanged with a slight gain of 100. Colorado and Oregon declined by 600 and 100, respectively. Over the past 5 months, Oregon has slipped by a total of 9,800. Among the small States in the West, Utah gained 500, New Mexico dropped 1,300, Idaho fell 500, and Nevada lost 400.
In October, the Northeast rose slightly by 13,600, reflecting gains in 3 of 4 of its large States. Pennsylvania experienced the largest increase, 6,200. New York gained 4,500 after a combined 6-month loss of 51,000. New Jersey rose 3,300, after two months of declines. Labor demand in Massachusetts was basically unchanged in October (-200). Over the last five months, advertised vacancies in Massachusetts have declined nearly 20,000. Among the smaller States in the region, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Connecticut gained 900, 500, and 200 respectively while New Hampshire dropped 500.
The South also posted a modest increase of 4,700, reflecting slight gains in four out of six of its large States in October. Florida experienced the largest gain, 4,200. Next was Georgia with a gain of 2,700, partially offsetting a combined 4-month loss of 33,100. Texas gained 2,600, and North Carolina rose 1,600. Maryland dropped 2,800. Since May 2011, labor demand in Maryland has slipped by over 27,300. Virginia fell 1,000 for a combined 5-month drop of nearly 15,000. Among the smaller States in the South, Alabama dropped 1,300, Arkansas lost 1,000, and Oklahoma fell a mere 100 while Tennessee gained 1,000.
The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in September (the latest month for which unemployment numbers are available) stood at 3.54, indicating that there are close to 4 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. Nationally, there are 10 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 0.89. States with the next lowest rates included South Dakota (1.46), Nebraska (1.52), Vermont (1.71), Alaska (1.78), and New Hampshire (1.95). The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (7.73), where there are close to 8 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. There are a few other States in which there are at least five unemployed for every advertised vacancy. These include South Carolina (5.17), California (5.08), Kentucky (5.01), and Alabama (5.00).
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).
- Demand for Office and Administrative Support shows an upward bounce
- Ads for Production workers and Sales staff level off following several months of declines
Changes for the Month of October
In October, twelve of the twenty-two Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC codes) that are reported separately declined while nine posted some gains and one, Community and Social Services, was unchanged. For most of the occupational categories the October change, whether up or down, was modest.
Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, demand for Office and Administrative Support occupations rose 30,100 to 468,700. This followed a September rise of 17,000. Occupations that underwent increases in October included Receptionists and Information Clerks, Customer Service Representatives, and Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants. The number of unemployed in these occupations remains above the number of advertised vacancies with nearly 4 (3.81) unemployed for every advertised vacancy.
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations, in contrast, posted the largest decrease, 25,000, to 506,600. Largely responsible for the drop were decreased advertised vacancies for Registered Nurses and Family and General Practitioners. However, the number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job-seekers by 2.6 to one (0.38 S/D based on September data, the latest unemployment data available).
Labor demand for Management workers also declined in October, down 6,000 to 371,800, led largely by a decrease in demand for Medical and Health Services Managers and Marketing Managers. Demand for workers in this occupational category has fallen 96,000 since May. There are close to 2 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in this occupational category (S/D of 1.91).
Two occupations posting increases in October included Transportation and Material Moving and Sales and Related. Demand for Transportation and Material Moving workers rose 8,900 to 198,900. This increase was led by an increase in demand for Truck Drivers. The number of unemployed in this occupational category continues to outnumber the number of advertised vacancies by close to 6 to 1 (S/D of 5.58). Labor demand for Sales and Related workers rose 8,700 to 510,700. This increase, following a September drop of nearly 20,000, was led by an increase in demand for Retail Salespeople. The number of unemployed in this occupational category continues to outnumber the number of advertised vacancies by about 3 to 1 (S/D of 3.11).
Longer View of Labor Demand for Selected Occupations
“Looking at the 22 broad occupational categories over the ten months of 2011, the patterns for labor demand have been quite different, with some occupations easier to categorize in terms of their trend than others,” said Shelp. Construction and Extraction, for example, has had a very slow but relatively steady increase throughout 2011; it has risen an average of 2,000 a month to 76,600 in October. The demand for Legal occupations, on the other hand, after stalling in early 2010, has declined rather sharply in the last seven months; it has dropped an average of 946 ads/month to 21,200 advertised vacancies in October. Other occupations that have lost ground in the last few months and continue their slide in October include Architecture and Engineering; Healthcare Support; Management; Life, Physical and Social Sciences; Community and Social Services and Computer and Mathematical.
“For other occupations, we will need another few months to tell if demand is stabilizing,” said Shelp. For example, demand for Production workers, (117,000 advertised vacancies in October) is closely in line with the September level; it declined only 247, which is a hopeful sign that demand is stabilizing. “The increased demand for Office and Administrative Support in the last two months (+47,000) is a positive note,” adds Shelp, “but the monthly average throughout 2011, at 456,000/month, is a level that is 117,600 fewer ads per month than in 2007.”
For the job-seeker, the difficulty of finding a job is a factor of the number of openings as well as the number of people seeking work in that profession. The broad occupational groups that can be termed “favorable,” where there are more advertised vacancies than unemployed people seeking positions, include Computer and Math, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical, and Life, Physical and Social Sciences. Occupations where finding a position is more challenging and where there are more unemployed than advertised vacancies include Construction (18.9 unemployed for every available opening); Food Preparation and Serving (9.6); and Production Work and Personal Care, both with over 8 unemployed for every available opening.
METRO AREA HIGHLIGHTS
- Washington, D.C., Oklahoma City, Boston, and Minneapolis-St. Paul have the lowest Supply/Demand rates
In October, 38 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 down 5,600, or 2.2 percent, from its October 2010 level and the Washington, DC metro area was down 3,600, or 2.5 percent, from last year. In contrast, the Los Angeles metro area was up 2,900, or 1.9 percent, from last year’s level.
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 (1.30) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker. Oklahoma City, Boston, Minneapolis- St. Paul, and Honolulu were metropolitan locations where there were fewer than two unemployed looking for work for every advertised vacancy (Table C). On the other hand, metro areas in which the respective number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies include Riverside, CA - here there are nearly nine unemployed people for every advertised vacancy (8.94) — Miami (5.84), Sacramento (5.14), Los Angeles (4.71), Detroit (4.67), and Las Vegas (4.63). Supply/Demand rate data are for August 2011, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.