Online Labor Demand up 128,600 in September

NEW YORK, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Online advertised vacancies rose 128,600 in September to 4,813,400, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series released today. Following a strong rise of 625,000 in the first half of 2012, the third quarter finishes down 134,000. The Supply/Demand rate stands at 2.7 unemployed for every vacancy. In August the number of unemployed was 7.9 million above the number of advertised vacancies, down from 11.8 million at the end of the recession in June 2009 and 10 million in Q3 of 2011.

"The September rise was welcome news, especially the strong gain for Sales staff and managers, which made up almost one third of the increase," said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board. "Occupations commonly associated with building (Construction and Building and Grounds Maintenance) also rose a combined 8,900 in September as employers had to replace or add workers. In 2012 the average monthly increase has been 55,000 and 48 of the 50 States (all but Vermont and Wyoming) are showing gains."


In September labor demand rose in 19 of the 20 largest States, with Colorado basically unchanged.

Changes for the Month of September

In September, online labor demand rose in 45 of the 50 States in the U.S. All States but Vermont were above last September's levels.

Online labor demand in the West rose 39,800 in September. California, the largest State, gained 14,600 in September and was up 66,100, or 14.3 percent, in the first nine months of 2012. Washington State rose 7,000 in September and is up 14,800, or 14.3 percent, this year. Arizona increased by 1,800 for a cumulative 2012 gain of 8,800, or 11.0 percent. Colorado dipped 100 in September for a cumulative gain of 12,000, or 14.1 percent for the year. Among the smaller States, in September Oregon gained 4,300; Nevada increased by 1,900; and Utah rose 1,700.

Online labor demand in the Midwest rose 36,700 in September. Ohio experienced the largest increase, 8,800, while Michigan posted a gain of 5,300. The September increase in Ohio brought the nine-month total for 2012 to 22,100, or 13.1 percent. Michigan's cumulative gain was 17,600, or 14.2 percent. Missouri gained 4,800 for a 2012 gain of 7,900, or 9.3 percent. Illinois was up 1,600 in September for a year-to-date gain of 21,300, or 13.5 percent. Minnesota was up a mere 200 in September, but for all of 2012 the gain is 12,100, or 11.1 percent. Wisconsin rose 2,800 for a nine-month gain of 3,600, or 3.7 percent. Among the smaller Midwest States, in September Indiana gained 3,400; North Dakota gained 1,100; and Kansas gained 1,000.

Online labor demand in the South gained 33,500 in September with North Carolina posting the largest increase, 5,500, for a cumulative 2012 increase of 19,600, or 16.8 percent. Next was Florida with a September increase of 4,300 and a nine-month increase of 27,700, or 11.5 percent. Georgia gained 2,900 in September for a year-to-date increase of 12,400, or 10.6 percent. Virginia rose 2,400 this month and 20,500, or 15.0 percent, so far this year. Texas gained 2,100 in September for a cumulative nine-month gain of 48,100, or 15.6 percent. Maryland increased by 1,100 in September for a year-to-date gain of 10,600, or 10.3 percent. In September among the smaller States, Tennessee and South Carolina both gained 2,900; Arkansas rose 1,000; and Louisiana fell 1,200.

In the Northeast labor demand rose 31,300 in September. Pennsylvania led with a September gain of 9,400 for a cumulative gain of 13,800, or 7.8 percent, so far this year. New Jersey increased by 4,900 in September for a cumulative gain of 15,000, or 10.5 percent, in 2012. Massachusetts rose 4,200 for a cumulative gain of 17,100, or 13.4 percent, in 2012. New York gained 3,900 for a cumulative gain of 26,500, or 10.5 percent, this year. Among the smaller States in the Northeast, September labor demand increased by 1,500 in Connecticut; 1,000 in New Hampshire; 800 in Rhode Island; and 400 in Maine.

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in August (the latest month for which the national unemployment number is available) stands at 2.68, indicating that there are fewer than three unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. Nationally, there are 7.9 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.

The Supply/Demand rates for the States are also for August 2012, the latest month available for state unemployment data. The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the Supply/Demand rate was 0.67. The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (5.31), where there were over 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).


  • In September all but 3 (Houston, Minneapolis, and Miami) of the largest metro areas posted increases in labor demand
  • 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 September, 17 of the 20 largest MSAs and 47 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately posted increases in the number of advertised vacancies.

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: Detroit (up 147%), Cleveland (up 141%), Minneapolis-St. Paul (up 140%), Columbus (up 123%), Milwaukee (up 123%), Nashville (up 120%), San Jose (up 115%), Indianapolis (up 112%), Louisville (up 112%), Charlotte (up 111%), and Cincinnati (up 103%).

Seventeen MSAs had Supply/Demand rates in July 2012 (the latest available data for unemployment) lower than 2, indicating there are fewer than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy. Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.03) with basically one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker. Oklahoma City (1.13), Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.17), Boston (1.21), Salt Lake City (1.46), and Columbus (1.47) 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 over 7 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy (7.59), Sacramento (4.09,; Miami (3.68), Los Angeles (3.62), and Las Vegas (3.60). Supply/Demand rate data are for July 2012, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.


In September:

  • 19 of the 22 major occupational groups in the Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) posted gains while 3 dipped
  • Among the top 10 occupations for labor demand, Sales and Related occupations experienced by far the largest increase, 41,000

Occupational Changes for the Month of September

Among the largest occupational groups, Sales and Related occupations experienced the largest September increase, gaining 41,000, or 6.5 percent, to 671,000. In the Sales category the increase included greater demand for Retail Sales Workers and First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers.

Installation, Maintenance, and Repair rose 9,100, or 5.6 percent, to 171,300. The Installation, Maintenance, and Repair demand increase was due to an increase in demand for Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers and General Maintenance and Repair Workers. Transportation and Material Moving occupations also rose 8,600 to 235,000, largely reflecting increased demand for Truck Drivers.

Other categories with rises in labor demand included Management, up 7,800 to 464,000, reflecting a demand increase for Sales Managers and Food Service Managers; Food Preparation and Serving Related, up 6,200 to 182,300 due to higher demand for Waiters and Waitresses and First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers; and Office and Administrative Support, which was up 6,100 to 498,800, reflecting higher demand for First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Office and Administrative Workers, General Office Clerks, and Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants.

A Stark Contrast—Professional versus Services/Production-Related Occupations

Last month we highlighted the difference between occupations in two broad categories, Professional occupations and Service/Production occupations. The contrast remains quite stark with occupations in the Professional group showing labor shortages and higher wages while occupations and wages in the Service/Production group remain depressed with an over-supply of labor and in general lower wages. Since the official end of the recession in June 2009, the number of unemployed for every advertised vacancy has declined by almost half from 5.1 in 2009 to 2.7 in August 2012. "Overall the news is that the labor market situation seems to continue to improve in 2012," said Shelp. "However, the experience for the two occupational categories remains quite divergent."

The number of advertised vacancies is roughly 50/50 in the two categories[1]; however, the number of unemployed seeking these jobs is not. About 80 percent of the officially unemployed are in the Service/Production occupations while 20 percent of the officially unemployed are in the Professional occupations. The Supply/Demand (S/D) rates also show this marked difference with roughly one unemployed for every advertised vacancy in the professional categories while the S/D rate for the Services/Production occupations is 4.0 (four unemployed for every advertised vacancy).

"While the current S/D rates for the Services/Production group seem quite high compared to the Professional group, there have been significant improvements in the S/D rates for many of the occupations in the Services/Production group since the end of the recession in June 2009", added Shelp. Although the increase in demand for sales, construction, and production workers (occupations in the Service/Production group) has been slow and no doubt difficult for workers that lack the education needed for the professional occupations, there has been improvement.

For Construction (SOC 47) the number of unemployed in August was 1,193,000 with a S/D rate of 13.5 — i.e. over 13 unemployed for every advertised vacancy. This was a significant improvement from the 46 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in June 2009 at the end of the recession. Building and Grounds Maintenance (SOC 37) with 574,000 unemployed and an August S/D rate of 8.0 is a large improvement from the 23 unemployed for every advertised vacancy at the end of the recession. The higher labor demand in September may continue to lower the S/D rates and make what is a difficult job challenge somewhat easier for workers in these categories.

[1] Using the Federal government's Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system codes, the Professional category is represented by SOC codes 11 through 29. The Services/Production-Related category is represented by SOC codes 31 through 53.

A Look at Labor Demand in Sales Occupations

Sales and Related occupations (SOC 41) saw a significant increase in September, rising 41,000 to 671,000. The increase in the first nine months of 2012 was 131,000, a rise of 24 percent.

The number of unemployed (in August) was 2.4 for every advertised vacancy. The August S/D rate has fallen to about 60 percent of the rate in June 2009, when there were close to 4 unemployed for every advertised vacancy.


HWOL is now available on Haver Analytics

Over 3,000 of the key HWOL press release time series are exclusively available on Haver Analytics. The available time series include the geographic and occupational series for levels and rates for both Total Ads and New Ads; in addition to the seasonally adjusted series, many of the unadjusted series are also available. The geographic detail includes: U.S., 9 Regions, 50 States, 52 MSAs (largest metro areas); the occupational detail includes: U.S. (2-digit SOC), States (1-digit SOC) and MSAs (1-digit SOC).

For more information about the Help Wanted OnLine database delivered via Haver Analytics, please email or navigate to For HWOL data for detailed geographic areas and occupations not in the press release, please contact or


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 for over 16,000 Internet job boards, corporate boards 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 July 2008), the HWOL series measures help wanted advertising, i.e. labor demand. The HWOL data series began in May 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 May 2009 release, and seasonally adjusted data for the 52 largest metropolitan areas began with the February 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:

Additional information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data used in this release can be found on the BLS website,

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