Online Job Ads Declined in Third Quarter of 2015

Overall labor demand remains strong for the year

By Roy Maurer Oct 6, 2015

Online help-wanted ads declined in September 2015 by 138,500 to approximately 5.28 million, according to The Conference Board’s report on online labor demand.

The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine Data Series report, released Sept. 30, 2015, 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.

September’s decrease follows two months of gains, leaving the third quarter of 2015 with a small decline from the previous quarter of 21,000 job ads.

“Labor demand in 2015 started with a very strong first quarter, followed by losses in the second quarter and an essentially flat third quarter, leaving the average monthly increases in 2015 at a modest 18,000 per month,” said Gad Levanon, managing director, macroeconomic and labor market research for The Conference Board. “While the number of ads flattened in recent months, it remains at a very high level, suggesting a strong labor demand.”

Help-wanted ads in September were 5.3 percent higher than in the same month of 2014 and have ranged between 5.27 million and 5.47 million this year.

The ratio of unemployed workers to online job ads stands at 1.48 unemployed for each advertised vacancy. The supply-to-demand ratio reached a high of more than five unemployed workers per ad in 2009 during the recession.

“Up to this point in the year, my members have been reporting very robust growth in advertising sales, but … I think employers have also become a little blue around the gills and slowed their projected hiring,” said Peter Weddle, executive director of the International Association of Employment Web Sites. “There are still a huge number of openings in the job market, but rather than make offers to fill them, I suspect that at least some employers are using temps until they can figure out which way the global economy is heading. Bottom line, I don’t think this month’s trend necessarily indicates a weakness in the U.S. economy, but it definitely signals some concerns elsewhere and, in today’s interconnected world, that will almost certainly influence hiring.”

Among the top 10 occupations measured by the number of job ads, labor demand fell in September in seven areas. Office and administrative support ads declined 20,300, to 560,200, leaving about one unemployed person per opening. Food and preparation and serving related ads fell 13,000 to 228,000, leaving over two unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening. Transportation ads declined 11,700 to 401,700, leaving over one unemployed job-seeker for every advertised available opening.

The largest increase in job openings occurred in computer and mathematical science occupations (+11,100 to 601,200), where more than four job openings were posted for each unemployed worker in that category. Health care practitioners and technical ads rose 7,100 to 623,000 and management ads gained 3,900 to 495,700.

The report showed that online labor demand was up in seven states and down in 43. All four U.S. regions experienced decreases with the South experiencing the largest decrease of 62,500.

The Midwest experienced a decrease of 41,600; the West decreased 36,500; and the Northeast decreased by 10,000.

The number of job ads rose however, in 15 of the 20 largest metropolitan areas, led by Chicago (5,700), San Francisco (5,600) and Los Angeles (5,100). Houston saw the steepest drop (3,700).

Labor demand rose in 25 of the 52 largest metro areas, fell in 26, and remained unchanged in Nashville, Tenn.

Based on July 2015 unemployment data for metro areas, a number of tech hubs saw more job openings than unemployed workers, including Austin, Texas, Boston, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy​​


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Post a Job


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect