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RISMEDIA, June 2, 2009-Online advertised vacancies rose 250,000 to 3,367,000 in May, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted Online Data Series (HWOL)(TM) released this week. The May gain was the first since the modest gain of 21,000 in October 2008, and the largest since October 2006. Even with this month’s increase, online advertised vacancies remained down 1,152,000, or 25%, since last year.

“The May bounce in labor demand is a very welcome sign,” said Gad Levanon, Senior Economist at The Conference Board. “April and May are both months when businesses typically step up their demand for workers. This year, while April was weak, by May employers were placing ads for workers in numerous locations across the nation. Over the last four months, there are now about a half dozen states where the drop in labor demand shows signs of leveling off and another handful of states show some very moderate increases. Labor demand typically leads the trend in both employment and unemployment, so positive signals on labor demand are always important. Even with the current positive signs, the likely outlook is for unemployment to continue to rise and employment to fall at more modest levels throughout the summer. In April (the latest unemployment data until the May numbers are released this Friday), there were 10.6 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.”

Regional and State Highlights

Online advertised vacancies up in 43 of the 50 States in May.

Over the past four months New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Hawaii among states where drops in labor demand have either leveled off or shown small increases.

Among the 20 most populous states, the number of unemployed persons outnumber advertised vacancies (Supply/Demand) and range from a low of 2 to 1 (Maryland) to about 9 to 1 (Michigan).

The number of advertised vacancies rose in May in all four regions of the country (Northeast, South, Midwest and West), reflecting gains in 43 states across the nation. For many states, May marked the first increase following months of steady decline in labor demand. “Over the last few months, we have not seen any big increases in labor demand, but in some states there seems to be clear signs that employers are advertising again for workers,” said Levanon. “In addition, about one fourth of the states are showing some signs of labor demand bottoming.”

The May increase of 76,800 in the Southern region reflected increases in all of the largest states. The four-month trend in Florida, Georgia and Maryland is a sign that their drop in labor demand is now stabilizing. Virginia saw the largest increase in May (11,800) and was followed by Texas (11,300), Maryland (11,200), Georgia (9,400), Florida (5,700) and North Carolina (5,100). Among the smaller states in the South, West Virginia rose 2,100 in May and Arkansas was up 1,800, and both have shown a modest upturn since January 2009. Kentucky (3,200), Oklahoma (800) and Louisiana (100) were up modestly in May and continued their relative flat trends since January.

In the Northeast, the trend in labor demand in New Jersey has turned slightly positive with an increase of 6,000 in May and, in total, a modest 14,000 rise over the last four months. New York showed the sharpest increase in May (20,300) and was followed by Massachusetts (10,000) and Pennsylvania (7,900). Among the states with smaller populations in the region, Maine dropped a modest 900 in May but overall has shown a flat trend since January.

In the West, May marked the first month of increase in labor demand for all four of the most populous states. California and Arizona had shown strong downward trends since Summer 2007. May marks the first major increases for these states — 30,700 and 9,100 respectively. Labor demand in Colorado and Washington had been on a downward trend since Summer 2008 and rose 11,600 and 7,000 respectively in May. Among the states with smaller populations, Hawaii and Oregon are two states in the West where the trend has been steady or modestly up since January. In May, Hawaii rose 1,500 while Oregon was up 1,300.

The Midwest, which saw an increase of 36,200, was the only region where there were declines in May in some of the most populous states. Michigan decreased by 2,100, and Wisconsin dropped by 1,800. Illinois experienced the largest increase (8,400) and was followed by Minnesota (5,300) and Missouri (2,600). Ohio, which was up a modest 800 in May, was the Midwest state where drops in labor demand have leveled off over the last few months.

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in April (the latest month for which unemployment numbers are available) was at 4.40, up from 4.05 in March, indicating there are more than 4 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy. Among the states, the highest Supply/Demand rate is in Michigan (8.88), or nearly 9 unemployed people for every advertised vacancy. Other states where there are over 6 unemployed for every advertised vacancy include Indiana (7.35), Kentucky (7.30), Mississippi (6.78), North Carolina (6.58), Tennessee (6.40), Ohio (6.16) and South Carolina (6.15). Maryland (1.98) and Virginia (2.27) continue to have some of the lowest rates.

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

Management, Office Services, Computer, and Health practitioners contribute to May increase in job demand.

Labor demand continues to remain well below year-ago levels for most occupations.

Over half of the 250,000 May increase in online advertised vacancies reflected increases in Management (43,600) and Office and Administrative Support Services (41,600) as well as Computer and Mathematical Science (34,800) and Health Practitioners and Technical occupations (20,100). The remaining increases were spread across the wide range of occupational categories.

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 ten occupations advertised online, there were more vacancies than unemployed people seeking positions for healthcare practitioners (0.3) and computer and mathematical science (0.6). On the other hand, in sales and related occupations, there were about four people seeking jobs in this field for every online advertised vacancy (4.1) and there were over five unemployed looking for work in office and administrative support positions for every advertised opening. For management positions, there were almost two people looking for every advertised opening.

Metro Area Highlights

47 of top 52 Metro areas post over-the-year declines in job demand in May.

Honolulu labor demand up 3,100 over last year’s levels, Oklahoma City gains 1,900 advertised vacancies, Virginia Beach gains 1,400, Providence gains 300, and Baltimore gains 100.

In May, 47 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately posted over-the-year declines in the number of online advertised vacancies. Honolulu, with 13,900 ads, was well above last year’s level (29.5%).

Oklahoma City, with 19,300, gained 1,900 advertised vacancies compared to last year. Virginia Beach, with 22,100, gained 1,400. Providence and Baltimore experienced very modest increases. Among the three metro areas with the largest numbers of advertised vacancies, online advertised vacancies in both the New York and the Los Angeles metro areas were close to 25% below May 2008 levels. Washington, D.C. was down 3,700, or 2.4%, from 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. and Salt Lake City were the locations with the 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, CA, where there are over 11 unemployed people for every advertised vacancy (11.2), Detroit (10.6), Sacramento (6.3), Portland (6.2), Louisville (5.8), Los Angeles (5.6), Miami (5.6), Chicago (5.5), Tampa (5.3), Providence (5.2), Atlanta (5.1), and Rochester (5.1). Supply/Demand rate data are for March 2009, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.

Note: Seasonally Adjusted Occupational Data

With the release of May 2009 data, the occupational data are now seasonally adjusted. Unemployment data for these tables are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey and are seasonally adjusted by The Conference Board in order to provide comparable data to calculate Supply/Demand rates for occupations. The Supply/Demand rate is the number of unemployed in the occupation divided by the number of advertised vacancies in the occupation.

The Conference Board Help-Wanted Online Data Series(TM) 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.