The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL)

Online Labor Demand Edged Up 15,200 in March

01 Apr. 2015

  • First quarter 2015 showed strong growth resulting from large gains in both January and February
  • Demand for Oil and Gas Extraction workers plummets as oil prices fall (see Chart page 7)
  • Note: Table 6 and MSA unemployment data in Table B are omitted until BLS issues revised seasonally adjusted MSA unemployment data

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Online advertised vacancies increased 15,200 to 5,466,400 in March, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series, released today. The February Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.60 unemployed for each advertised vacancy, with a total of 3.3 million more unemployed workers than the number of advertised vacancies. The number of unemployed was 8.7 million in February. 

“Online demand growth over the first quarter of 2015 at +349,000 has been the strongest quarterly growth in eight years,” said Gad Levanon, Managing Director, Macroeconomic and Labor Market Research. “The growth has been well-balanced across the regions of the country and the major occupational groups, reflecting an overall healthy employer demand so far in 2015.” 

In March, the Professional category saw the most gains with Management (6,500), Business and Finance (4,200), Computer and Math (8,800) and Healthcare (5,200). The Services/Production category saw losses in Transportation (−30,000), Building and Grounds (−11,800) and Installation and Repair (−8,500).


  • 10 of the 20 largest States posted gains in March
  • Among the 50 States, 30 States declined, 19 rose, 1 remained constant (Montana)

March Changes for States

In March, online labor demand was down in 30 States (see Table 3), up in 19, and constant in one (Montana). Two regions experienced decreases, and two experienced increases.

The South experienced by far the largest decrease, −74,100 in March. Among larger States in the region, Texas led the decline with a drop of 20,100 to 402,400. Maryland fell 4,800 to 105,000. Georgia decreased 3,500 to 160,700. North Carolina declined 3,000 to 140,200. Florida experienced a decrease of 2,300 to 290,000. Virginia dropped 1,300 to 151,000. Among the smaller States, Kentucky fell 4,500 to 51,300; South Carolina decreased 3,600 to 66,800; Alabama decreased 3,100 to 53,800; Louisiana dropped 2,800 to 58,800; Mississippi declined 1,300 to 26,800; and West Virginia fell 400 to 21,000.

The Midwest experienced a March decrease of 19,400. Wisconsin rose 1,700 to 122,200. Illinois followed with an increase of 500 to 215,500. Minnesota inched up 100 to 138,500. Michigan fell 1,500 to 179,700. Missouri decreased 3,100 to 92,900. Among the smaller States in the region, Indiana decreased by 2,800 to 88,400; Kansas was down 1,400 to 48,000; Nebraska fell 800 to 45,500; North Dakota dropped 700 to 22,200; Iowa declined 600 to 73,400; and South Dakota rose 200 to 20,900.

The West gained 9,200 in March. California experienced the largest gain, 10,000, to 635,000. Washington increased 1,700 to 145,200. Arizona rose 700 to 107,300. Colorado declined 4,200 to 131,400. (Table A). Among the smaller States in the West, Idaho dropped 2,000 to 28,600; New Mexico fell 1,400 to 31,400; Alaska was down 300 to 18,700; and Utah slipped 100 to 63,400. Nevada rose 1,400 to 50,200, and Hawaii rose 400 to 18,300 (Table 3).

The Northeast rose 24,800. Massachusetts experienced the largest increase, 8,200, to 172,500. New York grew 9,600 to 325,400. New Jersey rose 3,400 to 150,900. Pennsylvania increased 3,200 to 221,700. In the smaller States, Connecticut increased 1,100 to76,600, New Hampshire rose 800 to 26,900, Maine gained 600 to 29,600, Vermont increased 300 to 14,600, and Rhode Island inched up 200 to 22,900.

Supply/Demand Rates: Help Wanted OnLine calculates Supply/Demand rates for the 50 States (Table 4). The data are for February 2015, the latest month for which State unemployment figures are available. There were nine States in which the number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed: North Dakota (0.54), Nebraska (0.60), South Dakota (0.74), Utah (0.78), Minnesota (0.80), Colorado (0.88), Montana (0.92), Iowa (0.95), and Vermont (0.96). The States with the highest Supply/Demand rates were Mississippi (3.07), where there were more than three unemployed workers for every job opening, and Louisiana (2.41) and West Virginia (2.21), which had more than two unemployed workers for every job opening.

Please note 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.


  • In March 44 metro areas declined, 7 increased, and one remained constant (Las Vegas, NV) (Table 5)

Metro Area Changes

In March, labor demand was down in 44 of the 52 largest metro areas, up in 7, and unchanged in one (Las Vegas). The MSAs with the largest changes in each of the regions were: Houston (−6,400), Dallas (−5,900), and Washington, DC (−5,500) in the South; Boston (−3,100) in the Northeast; Phoenix (−3,400) in the West; and St. Louis (−3,500) in the Midwest (See Table B and Table 5).

The South experienced by far the largest March decrease, −74,100, led by Houston, which declined 6,400 to 94,900. Dallas dropped 5,900 to 122,000. Washington, DC fell 5,500 to 155,500. Baltimore dropped 3,900 to 54,100. Atlanta decreased 3,400 to 104,400. Miami fell 4,500 to 77,600. San Antonio dropped 3,000 to 32,100; Nashville fell 2,900 to 32,800; Tampa declined 1,500 to 47,700; and Orlando inched up 400 to 36,300.

The Midwest dropped 19,400 in March. The largest decline was in St. Louis, which fell 3,500 to 41,100, followed by Kansas City’s drop of 3,300 to 41,100. Chicago fell 900 to 163,300. Milwaukee grew 600 to 33,600. Minneapolis-St. Paul increased 500 to 93,100. Detroit fell 1,800 to 80,600. Indianapolis fell 1,000 to 30,900. Columbus and Cincinnati fell 900 each to 40,200 and 36,600 respectively. Cleveland dropped 500 to 37,500.

The West grew 9,200 in March. Phoenix dropped 3,400 to 71,200. Denver declined 3,000 to 73,800. San Francisco fell 2,200 to 124,100. San Diego declined 1,200 to 50,400. Los Angeles dropped 200 to 188,200. Seattle-Tacoma inched down 100 to 89,900 while San Jose inched up 300 to 54,200. Portland dropped 700 to 51,600; Sacramento decreased 900 to 31,400; and Salt Lake City fell 500 to 36,100.

The Northeast increased 24,800, reflecting a rise of 3,100 in Boston to 128,800. New York rose 1,900 to 292,000. Philadelphia dropped 1,700 to 103,500. Providence decreased 2,000 to 28,300; Rochester fell 500 to 18,000; Hartford declined 200 to 29,300; Pittsburgh dropped 100 to 44,500; and Buffalo grew 300 to 22,500.


  • In March, 6 of the largest online job categories posted increases while 4 posted decreases. (Table C)

Occupational Changes for the Month of March

In March, 6 of the largest online job categories posted increases while 4 posted decreases. Transportation ads dropped 30,000 in March to 387,300 largely due to a decline in demand for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 1.55, i.e. about two unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening. (See Table 7 for Supply/Demand rates for all of the SOC categories.) Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance declined 11,800 to 110,700. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 4.26, i.e. about four unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening.

Office and Administrative ads grew 9,800 to 611,300. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 1.55, i.e. about two unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening. Computer and Math increased 8,800 in March to 608,600. Their supply/demand rate is 0.17, i.e. there are over 5 advertised available openings for every unemployed job-seeker. Management ads grew 6,500 to 500,600. Their supply/demand rate is 0.85, i.e. about one unemployed per opening.

Demand for Oil and Gas Extraction Workers

A dramatic 7-month collapse in demand for Oil and Gas Extraction workers began as crude oil prices started to fall. The Commodity Futures Price for Crude Oil reached a peak in late June 2014 and then began a steep decline. The effect was quickly felt in online labor demand for these workers which peaked in August 2014 and over the next 7 months fell 63% (see Chart 3).

A similar effect was felt in the major States which employed these workers. The largest State was Texas which represented 31% of the online ads; over the 7 month period, Texas demand fell −76%. The effect on other States included: Oklahoma (−81%), Pennsylvania (−70%), Louisiana (−79%), Colorado (−79%) and North Dakota (−64%).


HWOL available on Haver Analytics

Over 3,000 of the key HWOL press release time series are exclusively available on Haver Analytics. The available time series include the geographic and occupational series for levels and rates for both Total Ads and New Ads. In addition to the seasonally adjusted series, many of the unadjusted series are also available. The geographic detail includes: U.S., 9 Regions, 50 States, 52 MSAs (largest metro areas). The occupational detail includes: U.S. (2-digit SOC), States (1-digit SOC) and MSAs (1-digit SOC).

For more information about the Help Wanted OnLine database delivered via Haver Analytics, please email or navigate to For HWOL data for detailed geographic areas and occupations not in the press release, please contact



The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® Data Series (HWOL) 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.

Like The Conference Board’s long-running Help Wanted Advertising Index of print ads (which was published for over 55 years and discontinued in July 2008), the HWOL series measures help wanted advertising, i.e. labor demand. The HWOL data series began in May 2005. With the September 2008 release, HWOL began providing seasonally adjusted data for the U.S., the nine Census regions and the 50 States. Seasonally adjusted data for occupations were provided beginning with the May 2009 release, and seasonally adjusted data for the 52 largest metropolitan areas began with the February 2012 release.

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 and discussion of revisions to the series are available at:

Additional information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data used in this release can be found on the BLS website,

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Release Dates for 2015

May 6
June 3
July 1
August 5
September 2
September 30
November 4
December 2

The next release is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6, at 10:00 AM ET

For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232


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