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Zoltar Speaks: What the Internet Tells Us About Jobs


It’s that time again — Big Jobs Friday. Of course, we turn to the great Zoltar Fortune Telling Machine of the economy — the Internet — to read the cards.


Sure, companies can talk about their plans to hire, or we can talk about their reluctance to do so, but job listings, many of which are posted online, show exactly which companies are hiring and in what professions and at what level.

The ratio of job openings to the number of people in 50 of the most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. is improving, according to job-listing site Ten cities had a 1:1 ratio in May, that’s up from just four cities a year ago. The 10 are: Washington, D.C.; San Jose, Calif.; Boston; Oklahoma City; Raleigh, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Salt Lake City; and St. Paul, Minn.

(The government's official unemployment figures for May come out Friday. Economists currently expect to see 150,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls and that the unemployment rate held at 8.1 percent, according to economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.)

Twenty-seven other cities have a 1:2 ratio (two people for every job listing). Of the 50, the worst was Riverside, Calif., with 1:7 (seven people for every job listing). Compare that to August 2009, about a year into the recession, when Detroit was at the bottom of the list with a 1:18 ratio, a whopping 18 people for every job opening. Today, nearly three years later, the Motor City has clawed its way up the list a few notches to No. 45 with a ratio of 1:3 — three people for every job opening.

The sectors seeing the biggest gains in employment year over year are hospitality, up 48 percent, and education, up 40 percent. The hard-hit real estate sector saw a 20 percent jump in job postings and construction job postings are up 11 percent from a year ago. That’s not just the spring effect, when, repair and building ramp up — these are double-digit gains compared to LAST spring. Of course, by sheer volume, the winners remain health care and information technology, with 699,000 and 295,000 listings, respectively. Retail, a volatile sector for hiring, also has volume with 325,000 listings, though that was unchanged from a year earlier. What’s very telling is human resources — where you get paid to hire other people: Postings are up 11 percent from last spring.

What’s more, wage growth has grown for seven-straight quarters, after declining for more than a year during the recession, according to PayScale, a website that tracks wages.

Of course, with 12.5 million people still unemployed in America, the labor market is far from cured. Many companies are still relying on interns to fill the gaps: The number of internships availableon Indeed shot up 72 percent to more than 20,000 — a record high — in March from a year earlier. The companies with the most internships listed are also a telling sign of the economy: They are a mix of tech companies like Intel, eBay, IBM and HP, along with companies that hire a lot of entry-level employees such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car and big-box retailer Target.

And, there are still four times as many search results for “I hate my job” than there are for “I love my job.” Do a search for “I hate my job” and it turns up over 40 million results compared with just over 10 million for “I love my job.”

Search for “need a job” and it turns up a whopping 3.7 BILLION results. And more than 90,000 people “like” the Facebook“I Need a Job” page.

But if you search for “hope for the job market,” you'll get just shy of 6 million results.

So, hey, there’s some hope, right?!

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs:Sign of the Times: 20,000 Apply for 877 Auto JobsDetroit: From Urban Blight to Tech Might10 Signs the Job Market Is ImprovingThe Best Jobs for 2012... And, the Worst Jobs for 2012

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