Online Job Ads Slowdown Continues in February

March 3, 2008

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Online posted job vacancies in February grew only 3% from the February 2007 level, according to (pdf) the?Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series (HWOL) from The Conference Board, which said that was the smallest annual growth since the series began in May 2005.

The 3,927,500 online advertised vacancies posted in February 2008 were up 17%, or 565,000, over January – an expected seasonal (post-holiday) rise. February’s rate represents 2.6 advertised vacancies posted online for every 100 persons in the labor force.

The February results reflect a continued softening in labor demand; January results were a comparatively sluggish 7% growth over January 2007.

“The softening in advertised vacancies is widespread,” said Gad Levanon, economist at The Conference Board. “For the past three months, 75% of states had an average annual growth rate slower than the previous year. These data, along with the drop in the Consumer Confidence Index from 112 in July 2007 to 75 in February 2008, suggest that the slow pace of labor demand observed during the last half of 2007 may even slow further in the upcoming months.”

Below, additioanl findings issued by the Conference Board:

The National/Regional Picture

In February, 2,756,700 of the 3,927,500 unduplicated online advertised vacancies were new ads that did not appear in January, while the remainder are reposted ads from the previous month.

  • The monthly increase of 17% in total ads and the 24% in new ads is attributable to a post-holiday seasonal correction.
  • However, over-the-year (February ’07 – February ’08) total ads and new ads rose only a modest 3% and 8%, respectively – the lowest annual increases posted since the series began in 2005.
  • The monthly national increase in advertised vacancies between January and February ’08 reflected a seasonal gain in ads in all nine Census regions.
  • February ’07 – February ’08, seven of the nine regions continued to show a gain in labor demand, albeit the growth rate was slower than the previous year.
  • Two exceptions to this were New England and the Pacific region ,which declined 3% and 12%, respectively.

State Highlights

The absolute number of advertised vacancies declined from February 2007 to February 2008 in 12 states. However, looking at the pattern over the last three months, in 38 states (75%) the average annual growth rates in online advertising significantly slowed. Most of these same states also experienced a slowing in their average annual growth rate of employment during the last year.

  • Alaska posted 4.7 vacancies for every 100 persons in the state labor force, the highest rate in the nation, for the sixth month in a row.


  • Nevada (4.41) and Massachusetts (4.24) were close behind in the number of advertised vacancies when adjusted for the size of the state labor force.
  • Fully half of the top 10 states with the largest number of ads relative to their labor force are on the East Coast and include Massachusetts (4.24), Delaware (4.22), Maryland (4.16), New Jersey (3.75) and Connecticut (3.71).
  • Online advertised vacancies in California, the state with the largest labor force in the nation, totaled 529,600 in February.


  • The volume of online advertised vacancies in California was significantly above the next highest states, Texas (359,700), New York (299,500) and Florida (235,500).

Using the latest unemployment data available from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and computing the supply/demand ratio (unemployed/advertised vacancies), the Conference Board found…


  • The states with the most favorable (e.g., lowest) supply/demand rates included Delaware (0.89), Utah (0.95), Maryland (0.96), and Virginia (0.99).
  • Those were the only four states where the supply/demand rate was less than 1.0, indicating that the number of unemployed workers was fewer than the number of online job ads.
  • For the nation as a whole, the comparable supply/demand rate for January was 2.1, indicating that for every two unemployed people looking for work there was only one online advertised vacancy.
  • States where the number of unemployed persons looking for work significantly exceeded the number of online advertised vacancies included Mississippi (5.64) and Michigan (4.99), Arkansas (3.50), Kentucky (3.36) and South Carolina (3.19).

Occupational Focus

Healthcare practitioners and technical workers (282,200) and management positions (256,100) remain the top occupations with a significant number of ads posted online.


Also in high demand are occupations in business and financial (223,100), office and administrative support (221,200) and those demanding computer and quantitative skills.

Metro Areas Highlights

The deterioration in businesses’ demand for workers since the summer months was reflected in the fact that the number of online job ads was greater than the number of unemployed seeking work in only 11 metro areas in February, compared with 23 in July 2007.


  • Metro areas across the nation where the number of advertised vacancies are plentiful in relation to the number of unemployed include Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., Austin, Milwaukee, Boston, Baltimore, Seattle-Tacoma, San Jose, Denver, San Francisco, and Phoenix.
  • The top metro areas in February as measured by most advertised vacancies per 100 persons in the local labor force included Austin (6.05) Milwaukee (5.63), San Jose (5.39) and San Francisco (5.29).

About the data: The February figures reported in the Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series reflect the sum of the number of unduplicated online job ads for each day from mid-January to mid-February. This new data series, which includes data from April 2005, does not have sufficient history to allow for seasonally adjusted monthly data. The 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. It is not a direct measure of job vacancies.

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