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Home News USA Online Labor Demand Rises in February 2012

Online Labor Demand Rises in February 2012
added: 2012-03-07

Online advertised vacancies rose 39,900 in February to 4,423,300, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series. The February rise follows gains in December 2011 and January 2012. 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.

“In a positive sign the Supply/Demand rate dipped below the 3.0 level for the first time since November 2008,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board. “This reflects both significant gains in labor demand as well as drops in unemployment levels since the end of the recession. Labor demand is up 227,000 over the past three months, continuing to narrow the gap between the unemployed and available jobs. With the monthly level of job demand around 4.4 million, labor demand is back in line with the pre-recession series high in 2007.”

- In February 14 of the 20 largest States post modest gains

While the trend in labor demand for the U.S. is up as a whole, trends among the largest States differ significantly. In Michigan, monthly job postings in February 2012 were 79 percent above the number of postings in June 2009, which is pegged as the official end of the great recession. Other States that have seen significant increases between the end of the recession and February 2012 include: Minnesota, up 108%; Ohio, up 92%; Wisconsin, up 86%; and Indiana, up 79%. Less improvement was seen in a number of States where the housing market suffered most: Nevada, up 14%; and New Mexico, up 18%. Other states, such as Florida, where the housing market also tanked, have been more resilient. Florida labor demand is up 48% since the official end of the recession.

In February the Northeast gained 26,700, which included a rise of 12,100 in Pennsylvania. New York rose 2,900 in February and over the last three months was up modestly, with the New York metro area up 4.4% while other large metropolitan areas in the State dipped. (Buffalo down 3.2% and Rochester down 2.2%.) New Jersey rose 2,700 while Massachusetts gained 1,300 for a combined three-month gain of 6,600. Among the smaller States in the Northeast, the number of advertised vacancies in Connecticut rose by 1,700. Over the past three months, Connecticut has added 7,600. Maine rose 800 in February, while Rhode Island gained a mere 200. New Hampshire remained constant.

Labor demand in February in the South rose 23,800, reflecting gains in five out of six of its large States. Florida experienced the largest gain, 6,500. Over the last three months, Miami (up 4.8%) and Tampa (up 4.4%) have both shown modest strength. Maryland gained 3,800, and North Carolina rose 1,800. Virginia gained 1,200 for a combined two-month gain of 5,100. Texas rose a modest 600 for a 6-month gain of 24,800. Georgia was down 2,500 in February. Among the less populous States in the South, Arkansas gained 2,100, Tennessee rose 1,800, South Carolina increased by 900, and Louisiana gained a mere 300.

The West gained 21,000, reflecting gains in two out of four of its largest States. California had by far the largest increase, 18,400. Over the past 3 months, California gained 56,900 with gains in all of its larger metro areas and increases of 10%+ in San Diego (up 11.5%) and San Jose (up 10.0%). Colorado experienced the other February gain, 3,600, for a 6-month gain of 16,200. Washington dropped 3,200. Arizona fell 900. Among the less populous States in the region, Utah gained 1,600, Oregon fell by 1,100, and Nevada declined by 300.

The Midwest region fell 2,700. Illinois was down 3,100 but is still up 14,800 since September 2011. Wisconsin declined by 1,900. Minnesota lost a slim 500. Ohio experienced the largest gain, 4,900, and reached its highest level since September 2011. Missouri rose 2,500, and Michigan gained 1,300. Among the less populous States in the Midwest, Indiana gained 1,300, Kansas gained 400, and South Dakota gained 100. North Dakota fell 1,800.

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in January (the latest month for which the national unemployment number is available) stood at 2.91, indicating that there are close to 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 December 2011, 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 0.74. 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).

- Labor Supply/Labor Demand trend continues to improve
- Labor demand for Office and Administrative support increases this month

Changes for the Month of February

In February, twenty of the 22 Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC codes) that are reported separately posted gains, one declined, and one remained constant.

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, demand for Office and Administrative Support occupations rose 27,400 to 454,200, after a loss of 52,200 in January. Largely responsible for the 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.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations rose 16,600 to 596,900. Largely responsible for the rise were increased advertised vacancies for Registered Nurses. The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to be quite favorable and outnumbers job-seekers by 2.4 to 1 (0.42 S/D).

Labor demand for Sales and Related workers rose 16,300 to 560,700 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 2.46).

Labor Supply / Labor Demand Trend

For the first time in over three years, the January Supply/Demand rate has dipped below 3.0. Explained Shelp: “Although the number of unemployed still outnumbers the number of advertised vacancies, it is a significant improvement from the 5.2 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in May 2009. In roughly one year (April ’08 to May ’09) the S/D rate skyrocketed from just under 2 to 5.2, and over the next 33 months it has declined to within striking distance of what was the pre-recession ‘normal’ rate of about 2.0.”

Occupations in which more jobs are available than unemployed workers seeking positions include: Computer and Math; Architecture and Engineering; Life, Physical and Social Science; and Healthcare Practitioners and Technical. Among the occupations that are still relatively scarce, Construction at 17 unemployed for every ad has shown significant improvement from its high of 51 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in October 2009.

- NOTE: Metro area data is now “seasonally adjusted” to allow calculation of month-to-month change. Supply/demand rates reflect the latest unemployment data available (Dec ’11).
- Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Philadelphia registered large gains in February.

In February, 16 of the 20 large MSAs posted increases in the number of online advertised vacancies and six MSAs had S/D rates in December ’11 that were below 2, indicating there were less than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy. Overall 43 of the 52 metropolitan for which data reported also showed increases in February.

A number of the largest metro areas have shown real strength since the official end of the recession in June 2009; three have posted increases of over 100 percent since then: Cleveland, up 120%; Minneapolis-St. Paul, up 109%; and Detroit, up 108%.

Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.22) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, Oklahoma City, and Salt Lake City 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 (8.36) — and Sacramento (5.05), Miami (4.51), Los Angeles (4.38), Las Vegas (4.08), and Chicago (4.03). Supply/Demand rate data are for December 2011, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.

Source: The Conference Board

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