Online labor demand essentially unchanged in December

RP news wires

Online advertised vacancies were basically unchanged as they dipped 9,400 in December to 4,447,800, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series released on January 5. The nation's Supply/Demand rate stood at 3.39 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in November (the last available unemployment data)— a figure that is down from a peak of 4.73 in October 2009. Nationally, there are 10.7 million more unemployed than advertised vacancies.

"The year 2010 ended with a continuation of the lackluster labor demand we have  seen throughout the last half of this year," said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board. "The strongest job demand was in the first quarter of the year, but the rest of the year failed to show that employers were significantly ramping up hiring across the economy.  In the last half of 2010, advertised vacancies for workers in production, transportation, and construction and maintenance occupations increased, but demand for sales staff and workers in food preparation and serving, which rose in early 2010, moderated. After a promising start, 2010 ended with the overall job market relatively flat."


  • December online job demand weakest in the Northeast

For the third month in a row, labor demand rose moderately in the West, up 12,600 in December.  California was the largest contributor with an increase of 5,900. Arizona and Colorado gained 3,600 and 1,200 respectively while Washington slipped by 800 in December.  Among the smaller States, Oregon rose for the third straight month, up 3,100 in December.  Nevada and Hawaii also posted small gains—1,600 and 300 respectively. Alaska and New Mexico had small declines of 1,600 and 400, respectively.

The South rose by 12,500 in December. Georgia regained its prior momentum from the fall and added 7,300. Florida also experienced a respectable gain of 5,800 for December. Texas posted 4,900 advertised vacancies in December. Maryland lost 3,900, while Virginia increased by 800. North Carolina fell by 3,800. Among the less populous states in the South, Delaware fell for the fourth straight month (1,200). Advertised vacancies in Oklahoma remained unchanged.  Louisiana and Kentucky declined 1,300 and 2,100, respectively.

In December, the Midwest increased by 10,600. Wisconsin led the Midwest with its gain of 7,600. In the past quarter, Wisconsin has had a gain of 14,200. Ohio declined by 4,100. Labor demand in Michigan and Illinois had slight increases of 2,500 and 1,400 respectively. Over the past year Michigan continues to remain on a slow upward growth path. Minnesota grew by 3,300 this month while Ohio fell by 4,100. Among the States with smaller populations, Indiana and Missouri remained unchanged and North Dakota and Kansas experienced slight losses of 700 and 300 respectively.

The Northeast experienced the largest change with a decline of 20,400. New Jersey declined for the second month in a row (-7,900 in December), primarily from losses in openings for Office and Administrative Support Occupations, Computer and Mathematical Science Occupations, Sales and Related Occupations, and Management Occupations. New York dipped for the third straight month by 1,800 in December. Both New Jersey and New York have seen slowdowns in growth for the second half of the year. Pennsylvania gained 6,700 in December. Massachusetts held steady (300). Among the smaller States, Connecticut and Maine lost 2,300 and 800 respectively. Rhode Island and Vermont also experienced declines, 1,500 and 1,000 respectively.  

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in November (the latest month for which unemployment numbers are available) stands at 3.39, indicating that there were more than 3 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. Nationally, there are 10.7 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 include South Dakota (1.34), Alaska (1.40), and Nebraska (1.44), where the Supply/Demand rates reflected the fact that there was just over one unemployed for every online advertised vacancy.  States with the highest Supply/Demand rates are Mississippi (6.11) and Michigan (5.82), where there are about 6 unemployed people for every advertised vacancy. Although still among the highest in the nation, Michigan's S/D rate has improved significantly from the peak of 10.2 in July 2009, when there were just over 10 unemployed for every online advertised vacancy.  Other states with high S/D rates are Indiana (4.74) and Florida (4.71).

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 demand in December for:

  • Sales and Related up 10,300
  • Production rises 8,600
  • Computer and Mathematical Science slips by 8,500

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, Sales and Related occupations posted the largest December increase in the number of advertised vacancies, up 10,300 to 459,800 after three months of losses. However, unemployed workers in these occupations still outnumber advertised vacancies by 3.52 to one (based on November data, the latest unemployment data available).

Computer and Mathematical Science occupations posted a December decrease of 8,500 to 596,400 following gains throughout the fall. The December decline was largely due to decreases in demand for computer systems analysts and computer software applications engineers.  The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job seekers by almost three to one.

Demand for Production occupations grew by 8,600 to 120,400 and was led by an increased demand for painting, coating and decorating workers. There still remain almost 11 unemployed workers (10.77) looking for work in Production for every advertised opening.

Supply/Demand rates indicated that, among the occupations with the largest number of online advertised vacancies, there is a significant difference in the number of unemployed seeking positions in these occupations. Among the top ten occupations advertised online, there were more vacancies than unemployed people seeking positions for Healthcare Practitioners (0.33), Computer and Mathematical Science (0.36), and Life, Physical, and Social Science occupations (0.81). On the other hand, in Food Preparation and Serving-Related occupations, there were over 9 people seeking jobs in this field for every online advertised vacancy (9.2) and there were over 7 unemployed looking for work in Transportation and Material Moving positions for every advertised opening (7.4).


  • Washington, D.C., Oklahoma City, Baltimore, and Honolulu have the lowest Supply/Demand rates
  • Online advertised vacancies in all of the 52 largest metropolitan areas are above last year's levels

In December, all 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 19.3 percent above its December 2009 level, the Washington, D.C. metro area was 5.4 percent above its December 2009 level, and the Los Angeles metro area was 25.6 percent above last year's level.

The number of unemployed exceeded the number of advertised vacancies in all but one of the 52 metro areas for which information is reported separately (in Washington, D.C. there was one vacancy for every unemployed person). Oklahoma City, Baltimore, and Honolulu were the other metropolitan locations with the most favorable supply/demand rates, where the number of unemployed looking for work was only slightly larger than the number of advertised vacancies. On the other hand, metro areas in which the respective number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies include Riverside, Calif. – where there are 9.0unemployed people for every advertised vacancy (9.0) – Detroit (5.1), Miami (5.0), and Sacramento (4.6). Supply/Demand rate data are for November 2010, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.

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