— Labor demand up sharply in January after being relatively flat during the last half of 2010

— 49 states post gains in January

— Note: As part of the annual HWOL program revision, a number of updates to the historical series were implemented with this release of the January 2011 data (see Program Notes)

Online advertised vacancies rose 438,000 in January to 4,273,000 according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine™ (HWOL) Data Series released today.  With the January increase, labor demand has risen 1.44 million since the series low point in April 2009. This increase now offsets approximately 80 percent of the 1.76 million drop in ad volume during the 2-year downturn period from April 2007 through April 2009.

“The very strong seasonal gain to start 2011 is welcome news following seven months of essentially flat U.S. labor demand,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board. “Last year, after a promising start (up about 350,000 in January 2010), labor demand fizzled, and the last half of 2010 was actually flat with no appreciable gains in job demand. Hopefully the January 2011 increase suggests that employers are seeing a pickup in their businesses and labor demand will continue to improve throughout this year.”


  • Labor demand rises in January in 49 states and remains unchanged (-200) in Rhode Island
  • Large states posting top gains in January include:
    • CA (56,800); TX (31,900); NY (29,400); IL (23,400) and FL (20,200)

Labor demand rose by 148,100 in the South in January and reflected gains across all of the States.  Among the larger States in the region, several states posted increases of 10 percent or more in January.  Texas (up 31,900 in January) has shown modest but steady growth over the last year. Georgia (up 7,900) continues its upward trend from the last quarter of 2010.  Other large states that posted January gains—Florida (+ 20,200), Virginia (+17,000), North Carolina (+10,100) and Maryland (+9,500)—had exhibited a relatively flat trend in labor demand during the last half of 2010. Among the less populous states in the South, South Carolina rose 7,600 after dipping for 5 months, Oklahoma increased 5,200, West Virginia was up 2,900, and Delaware and Arkansas were both up by 2,200.

In January, the Midwest increased by 112,900.  The largest increase was in Illinois, up 23,400 to 175,400.  After a slower second half of 2010, Ohio rose by 18,600, while Wisconsin and Minnesota are up by 11,700 and 11,600, respectively, and Michigan rose by 9,400 in January.  Among the States with smaller populations, Missouri rose by 9,000 after a three month fall and Indiana increased by 6,900 while North Dakota and South Dakota rose 1,900 and 1,600, respectively.

The West rose by 105,500, led by California’s gain of 56,800. California has seen a slow yet steady upward growth since October 2009. Along the West Coast, Washington State rose 12,400 in January—its first noteworthy gain since January 2010 – and Oregon was up 8,000. Among the largest mountain states, Arizona and Colorado rose by 8,800 and 7,100, respectively.  Other states in the region posting increases include Utah and New Mexico which gained 4,200 and 2,400 respectively.

The Northeast rose 85,000 in January.  New York was up 29,400, a welcome gain from its overall sluggish growth pattern in the past year.  Pennsylvania gained 18,100 while Massachusetts and New Jersey posted increases of 9,500 and 9,300, respectively.  Among the smaller States in New England, Connecticut rose by 9,200 while Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont were up 1,900, 1,700, and 1,600, respectively.  Rhode Island remained virtually unchanged (-200).

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in December (the latest month for which unemployment numbers are available) stands at 3.78, indicating that there are close to 4 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Nationally, there are 10.6 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.  The States where there were fewer than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy included North Dakota and South Dakota (Supply/Demand  rates of 1.14 and 1.66 respectively) as well as Nebraska (1.77) and Alaska (1.96).  The state with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (7.84), where there are almost 8 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  There are a number of states where there are over five unemployed for every advertised vacancy, including Kentucky (5.84), Michigan (5.65), Indiana (5.30), South Carolina (5.19), Alabama (5.17), Florida (5.12), and California and Nevada (both with Supply/Demand rates of 5.09).

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 demand in January:

  • Healthcare practitioners up 78,500 and healthcare support up 16,600
  • Production jobs rise 12,000

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, labor demand for Healthcare practitioners and technical workers increased by 78,500 in January to 604,400, led by a demand for registered nurses, and family and general practitioners.  Healthcare support occupations posted a gain of 16,600 to 143,300.  Healthcare support saw an increase in many areas including home health aides, nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants. However, there are over two workers seeking positions in healthcare support for every advertised vacancy (Supply/Demand rate of 2.4) compared to the more favorable market for healthcare practitioners where there are about 3 ads for every job-seeker (S/D of 0.35).

In January, occupations in a variety of office positions posted gains.  Management positions rose by 49,000. Management positions that had the largest increase in advertised vacancies included marketing managers, medical and health services managers, and sales managers.  Office and administrative support positions were up 38,500.  Business and financial occupations rose by 24,100.  The seasonal increase in these occupations is a welcome sign since businesses typically do not increase their advertising for workers in these fields in January.

Sales and related positions advanced by 64,400 in January and continue to show strength. Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing sales workers (except technical and scientific products), first-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, and sales agents in financial services were among the top advertised vacancies in this occupation area.  Advertised vacancies in Food preparation and serving jobs rose 10,700.  In both areas, however, there are more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.  In food preparation there are almost 9 (8.9) unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy.  The S/D rate in sales is somewhat better with 3 unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

Architectural and engineering positions increased 21,200 in January and is now at 166,600.  Production work posted an increase of 12,000 to 120,800. There are still 10.6 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in this field.


  • Washington, D.C., has the lowest Supply/Demand rate
  • Online advertised vacancies in all but one of the 52 largest metropolitan areas are above last year’s levels

In January, 51 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately posted over-the-year increases in the number of online advertised vacancies. Salt Lake City, Utah dipped by 300 to 17,400. Among the three metro areas with the largest numbers of advertised vacancies, the New York metro area was 18 percent above its January 2010 level, the Washington, D.C. metro area was 15.4 percent above its January 2010 level, and the Los Angeles metro area was 21.9 percent above 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, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Honolulu were the metropolitan locations with the most favorable supply/demand rates, where there were less than two unemployed looking for work was for every advertised vacancy.  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—where there are over 9 unemployed people for every advertised vacancy (9.83)—Miami (5.95), Sacramento (5.72), and Detroit (5.06). Supply/Demand rate data are for November 2010, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.


Revisions to the HWOL Time Series:

As a part of the annual HWOL program revision, a number of updates to the historical series were implemented with the release of the January 2011 data. To ensure the consistency and continuity of the time series data, all of the updates described below will be applied across the full HWOL time series history, from May 2005 through the current time period. With the January release, revised HWOL time series history from January 2007 forward are being released; the full time series history from May 2005 will be available with the February release on March 2, 2011. This year’s revision included: adjustments to the HWOL job board coverage, elimination of “invalid” job ads, improvements to the unduplication methodology, improvements to the occupational coding software, and annual updates to the seasonal adjustment factors.

Time Series Summary

The levels in the revised series are, on average, about 460,000 per month lower than the levels in the prior series; approximately 200,000 of this is due to the elimination of invalid job ads with the remainder attributable to adjustments to the job board coverage and improvements in the unduplication methodology. As can be seen in the chart, the series turning points and the trends have remained essentially unchanged (with the exception of the trend in the last half of 2010). Additionally, the overall losses of 1.7 million job ads during the series downturn (April 2007 through April 2009) and the gains of 1.0 million job ads during the series early recovery (April 2009 through April 2010) also remained essentially unchanged. Specific details of the revision changes are outlined below.

Job Board Coverage

The HWOL program collects data on a daily basis from over 1,200 online job board sources. Each year, new sources are added as they emerge while some existing sources may be dropped, if it is determined that they primarily aggregate their data from other job board sources. This year, a more extensive job board review and analysis was performed for identifying any remaining aggregator job boards; this review has resulted in the elimination of several job boards. In combination with the unduplication improvements, these changes resulted in lowering the series levels by about 260,000 ads per month.

Occupational Coding

The HWOL program uses Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) autocoder software which codes over 99 percent of all ads to the 6-digit SOC and 8-digit O’Net level. The latest version of the autocoder incorporated a new feature for identifying and classifying “invalid” job ads into a new Miscellaneous category. This category contains jobs which would generally not be included in the official government employment and job openings data series and are now being classified as “invalid” job ads by the HWOL program. These ads include such categories as: adult ads, get-rich-quick ads, human donors wanted ads, human test participants wanted, products/services-offered ads, job fair ads, and other various types of ads. The Miscellaneous category has now been dropped from the HWOL time series and this change has resulted in lowering the series levels by an average of about 200,000 ads per month.

Seasonal Adjustment

The HWOL program is initiating a new practice of calculating and publishing new seasonally adjusted series with the release of each year’s January data. New seasonal factors are calculated using historical data from May 2005 through the most current December data.

Description of The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine™ Data Series:

The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine™ Data Series measures the number of new, first-time online jobs and jobs reposted from the previous month on more than 1,200 major Internet job boards and smaller job boards 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 October 2008 but continues to be available for research), the new online series is not a direct measure of job vacancies.  The level of ads in both print and online can change for reasons not related to overall job demand.

With the December 1, 2008 release, HWOL began providing seasonally adjusted data for the U.S., the 9 Census regions and the 50 States. Seasonally adjusted data for occupations was provided beginning with the December 2009 release. This data series, for which the earliest data is May 2005, continues to publish not seasonally adjusted data for 52 large metropolitan areas.

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 on this new series are available at: http://www.conference-board.org/data/helpwantedonline.cfm.

The underlying online job listings data for this series is provided by Wanted Technologies Corporation. Additional information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data used in this release can be found on the BLS website, www.bls.gov.

The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

WANTED Technologies Corporation.

WANTED is a leading supplier of real-time sales and business intelligence solutions for the media classified and recruitment industries. Using its proprietary On-Demand data mining, lead generation and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) integrated technologies, WANTED aggregates real-time data from thousands of online job boards, real estate and newspaper sites, as well as corporate websites on a daily basis. WANTED’s data is used to optimize sales and to implement marketing strategies within the classified ad departments of major media organizations, as well as by staffing firms, advertising agencies and human resources specialists. For more information, please visit: http://www.wantedtech.com.

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