Online advertised vacancies inched up by 19,600 in June to 4,154,000 following a small decline in May, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series released on June 30. The gap between the number of unemployed and advertised vacancies (supply/demand rate) stood at 3.62 unemployed for every advertised vacancy in May (the last available unemployment data) but is down from 4.73 in October 2009.

"In the last two months, labor demand has been little changed following a strong start for Spring hiring in April," said June Shelp, vice president at The Conference Board. "Thus far, job demand has been uneven across geographies and occupations, and weakness in the housing market is one factor. While all states have experienced some positive upturn in labor demand, states that were heavily impacted by the housing market downturn, in general, are rebounding more slowly. Also, occupations that are most closely associated with real estate – construction, architecture and engineering, and legal – have been slower to advertise for additional workers while the labor demand in other occupations such as sales, entertainment, food preparation, and healthcare and personal care have already risen to pre-recession levels."

Regional and state highlights

  • June job demand strong in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania in the Northeast and North Carolina, Texas and Virginia in the South

In the Northeast region, online advertised vacancies in June were up 50,600, showing strength in several of the large states. Among the large States that have shown gains in recent months, New York was up 23,800 in June to its highest level since March 2008. Pennsylvania gained for the fourth straight month, up 15,000 in June, and reached its highest level since October 2008. New Jersey increased by 11,700 and reached its highest level since March 2008. Massachusetts decreased by a slim 2,000. Among the smaller States, June job demand in New Hampshire was up by 1,700, Rhode Island gained 700, Vermont rose 600, and Connecticut dropped 3,300 while Maine was down 1,200.

In June, labor demand in the West dropped by 51,600, reflecting in large part a decline of 46,800 in California, the most populous State in the region. Arizona and Colorado experienced drops of 5,200 and 2,900 respectively. Washington State gained 2,100. Among the smaller States, Oregon gained 1,100, New Mexico increased by 800, and Nevada inched up 700 while Alaska dropped 1,600 and Hawaii fell 1,300.

The Midwest declined this month by 21,300. Illinois experienced the largest drop in the region (9,800). Missouri was down 6,600, Minnesota fell 6,200, and Michigan declined by 2,200. Wisconsin and Ohio continued to gain momentum and rose 8,400 and 5,500, respectively. Among the States with smaller populations, Indiana decreased 1,800 while North Dakota was up 1,700.

The South rose in June by 49,200, reflecting significant gains by some States and lessening declines in the others. Texas led the way with a gain of 25,800 (most in the country), North Carolina rose 12,200 in June to 110,900, and Virginia rose 10,400 to 178,500. Among the most populous States with declines in June, Georgia and Maryland decreased 2,800 and 4,300, respectively, while Florida remained unchanged. Among the less populous states in the South, advertised vacancies in Oklahoma increased by 1,900 in June while Louisiana decreased by 800 and Kentucky decreased by 200.

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in May (the latest month for which unemployment numbers are available) was at 3.62, indicating that there just under 4 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. Nationally there are just over 10 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies. States with some of the lowest rates include North Dakota (1.24), South Dakota (1.51), Alaska (1.53), and Nebraska (1.57), where the Supply/Demand rates reflected the fact that there was just over one unemployed for every online advertised vacancy. Among the States, the highest Supply/Demand rates are in Mississippi (7.63) and Michigan (7.22), where there are over 7 unemployed people for every advertised vacancy. Although still among the highest in the Nation, Michigan's S/D rate has improved significantly from the 10.2 in July 2009 when there were just over 10 unemployed for every online advertised vacancy. Other states where there are over 5 unemployed for every advertised vacancy are Kentucky (5.38), Indiana (5.22), and Florida (5.08).

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.

Occupational highlights

  • Demand for Healthcare Practitioners and Technical workers rises 52,000 in June
  • Online demand for occupations such as Healthcare Support, Personal Care, Sales, and Food Preparation & Service are at or near all-time highs

In June, the trend in online demand in a range of service occupations like healthcare support, sales workers, food preparation, and community and social services continued to be strong. In these occupations advertised vacancies are at or near their all-time highs since the HWOL series began in May 2005. Other occupations, including those most closely associated with the real estate and construction industry and production, continue to lag behind pre-recession levels. While demand for traditional "office" occupations – including administrative occupations, business and finance, and management occupations – rose, these occupations continue to lag behind the levels seen before the recession.

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations posted the largest June increase, up 51,900 to 592,300. The June rise was largely due to increases in demand for physical and occupational therapists, registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and family and general practitioners. Healthcare Support occupations, which remained relatively strong throughout the recession, rose 2,100 in June to 113,900.

Healthcare is a broad field, and the relative tightness of the labor market varies substantially from the higher-paying practitioner and technical jobs to the lower-paying support occupations. In May, the latest month for which unemployment data are available, advertised vacancies for healthcare practitioners or technical occupations outnumbered the unemployed looking for work in this field by nearly 3 to 1, and the average wage in these occupations is $33.51/hour. In sharp contrast, the average wage for healthcare support occupations is $12.84 per hour and there were over two unemployed looking for work in the field for every online advertised vacancy.

Computer and Mathematical Science occupations were down 12,700 to 554,900 in June. The drop was largely due to decreases in demand for computer systems analysts, computer software engineers, and computer support specialists. Like the demand for healthcare practitioners, demand for workers in this occupational category exceeds the number of unemployed looking for work by 3 to 1.

Management occupations declined 10,000 to 540,300 in June. The June decrease largely reflects decreases in demand for sales managers, storage and distribution managers, marketing managers, and computer and information systems managers. Demand for Business and Financial Operations rose 3,600 to 215,600. In both of these areas the balance between the number of unemployed looking for work and advertised vacancies was relatively in line with or slightly over one job-seeker for each advertised vacancy.

Office and Administrative Support occupations experienced a June decline of 4,300 to 399,500. The June dip reflects decreases in postings for a wide variety of occupations including tellers, first-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers, data entry keyers, and payroll and timekeeping clerks. In this field there are over 4 unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

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 10 occupations advertised online, there were more vacancies than unemployed people seeking positions for Healthcare Practitioners (0.4), Computer and Mathematical Science (0.4), and Architecture and Engineering (0.9). On the other hand, in Sales and Related Occupations, there were over three people seeking jobs in this field for every online advertised vacancy (3.4) and there were over four unemployed looking for work in Office and Administrative Support positions for every advertised opening (4.1).

Metro area highlights

  • Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Honolulu have the lowest Supply/Demand rates Washington, D.C. is the one area in which the number of advertised vacancies exceeds the number of unemployed
  • With the exception of New Orleans, online advertised vacancies in all of the 52 largest metropolitan areas are above last year's levels

In June, 51 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately posted over-the-year increases in the number of online advertised vacancies; New Orleans posted a slight decrease. Among the three metro areas with the largest numbers of advertised vacancies, the New York metro area was 45 percent above its June 2009 level, the Washington, D.C. metro area was 28 percent above its June 2009 level, and the Los Angeles metro area was 8 percent above last year's level.

The number of unemployed exceeded the number of advertised vacancies in 51 of the 52 metro areas for which information is reported separately; Washington, D.C., was the exception. Baltimore, Honolulu and Oklahoma City were the locations with the next 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 over 9 unemployed people for every advertised vacancy (9.2), Detroit (7.3), Sacramento (4.8), and Miami (4.7). Supply/Demand rate data are for April 2010, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.