The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL)

Online Labor Demand Down 79,200 in December

07 Jan. 2015

  • December loss partially offsets November’s strong gain
  • Online demand in 2014 continued the steady growth seen in 2013
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Online advertised vacancies fell 79,200 to 5,174,700 in December, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series, released today. The November Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.73 unemployed for each advertised vacancy with a total of 3.9 million more unemployed workers than the number of advertised vacancies. The number of unemployed was 9.1 million in November.

“Labor demand in 2014 continued its steady growth pattern to new series highs,” said Gad Levanon, Managing Director, Macroeconomic and Labor Market Research. “Online labor demand quickly rebounded from the recession and surpassed the pre-recession series high in early 2012. In the 3 years since then, the level of online labor demand has increased further by about 20 percent.”

The sustained high level of employer labor demand has helped reduce the number of unemployed with the U.S. Supply/Demand rate falling from a recession high of 5.2 in 2009 (over 5 unemployed for each available ad) to the current level of 1.7. During 2014, the Supply/Demand rate fell by over 20 percent as demand continued to increase and unemployment continued to fall. The Supply/Demand rates for most major occupational groups are now also about at pre-recession levels with the rates for Professional occupations now averaging 0.66 and Services/Production occupations averaging 2.33.”


  • Fifteen of the 20 largest States posted losses in December
  • Among the 50 States, 36 experienced losses and 14 gained

December Changes for States

In December, online labor demand was down in 36 States (see Table 3) and up in 14. All four regions experienced declines.

The West experienced the largest decrease, -28,600 in December. California experienced by far the largest decrease, -17,800, to 575,500. Washington dropped 5,500 to 128,400. Colorado fell 3,900 to 130,400. Arizona gained 2,500 to 102,100 (Table A). Among the smaller States in the West, Hawaii fell 3,700 to 18,300, Utah dropped 1,600 to 59,900, and Nevada slipped 300 to 48,300. Alaska rose 600 to 18,200, Idaho gained 300 to 28,300, and New Mexico inched up 100 to 31,500 (Table 3).

The Northeast dropped 22,800. New York experienced the largest drop, -8,100, to 300,200. Massachusetts fell 3,300 to 154,600, New Jersey dropped 1,500 to 144,900, and Pennsylvania slipped 800 to 210,100. In the smaller States, New Hampshire fell 2,800 to 27,500, Connecticut decreased 1,600 to 70,900, Maine fell 800 to 29,200, and Vermont dropped 100 to 13,500. Rhode Island gained 500 to 20,700.

The South decreased 21,900 in December. Among larger States in the region, Florida experienced a decrease of 9,600 to 269,800. Virginia dropped 6,900 to 143,000 and was followed by Maryland, which fell 3,300 to 99,200. North Carolina dropped 2,900 to 133,600. Georgia slipped 100 to 148,800. Texas rose 3,800 to 406,400. Among the smaller States, Maryland fell 3,300 to 99,200, Louisiana was down 1,900 to 58,300, West Virginia decreased 700 to 21,100, South Carolina dropped 600 to 63,200, and Mississippi fell 500 to 26,500. Kentucky gained 500 to 51,100, and Alabama inched up 200 to 52,400.

The Midwest experienced a December decrease of 16,800. The largest drop occurred in Wisconsin (down 4,800 to 109,400). Illinois followed with a drop of 4,100 to 209,900. Missouri was down 900 to 88,000. Minnesota rose 1,500 to 129,600. Michigan gained 500 to 170,800, and Ohio rose 200 to 186,600. Among the smaller States in the region, Indiana dropped 1,700 to 86,300, Iowa decreased by 1,300 to 69,200, Kansas dropped 700 to 45,400, and Nebraska fell 300 to 43,900. South Dakota and North Dakota fell 700 and 500 respectively.

Supply/ Demand Rates: Help Wanted OnLine calculates Supply/Demand rates for the 50 States (Table 4). The data are for November 2014, the latest month for which State unemployment figures are available. There were eight States in which the number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed: North Dakota (0.49), Nebraska (0.71), South Dakota (0.72), Utah (0.83), Colorado (0.85), Minnesota (0.86), Montana (0.95), and New Hampshire (0.99). The States with the highest Supply/Demand rates were Mississippi (3.35), where there were over 3 unemployed workers for every job opening, and Alabama (2.41), Kentucky (2.37), Louisiana (2.36), and Georgia (2.31), which had over 2 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 December, 37 metro areas posted losses, 13 gained, and 2 remained constant (Table 5)

Metro Area Changes

In December, labor demand was down in 37 of the 52 largest metro areas, 13 gained, and 2 remained constant (Cincinnati and Tucson). The MSAs with the largest losses in each of the regions were: Los Angeles (-7,100), San Francisco (-6,200), and Seattle (-6,200) in the West; New York (-7,000) in the Northeast; Chicago (-5,700) in the Midwest; and Miami (-2,600) in the South (See Table B and Table 5).

The West experienced the largest December decrease, -28,600, led by Los Angeles, which dropped 7,100 to 169,900. San Francisco and Seattle-Tacoma followed with decreases of 6,200 to 118,600 and 81,800 respectively. San Jose dropped 2,500 to 52,500. Denver fell 2,300 to 72,400. San Diego decreased 1,700 to 47,100. Phoenix rose 600 to 68,000. Salt Lake City and Sacramento fell 700 to 35,700 and 28,700 respectively, and Portland slipped 100 to 46,900.

The Northeast fell 22,800, reflecting a decrease of 7,000 in New York to 282,000. Boston dropped 3,600 to 120,200, and Philadelphia fell 1,500 to 100,500. Buffalo fell 1,000 and stands at 20,700. Hartford decreased 600 to 28,400, and Rochester fell 500 to 16,800. Providence slipped 100 to 27,000. Pittsburgh inched up 300 to 44,600.

The South decreased by 21,900 in December. Miami decreased 2,600 to 75,900. Washington, DC fell 2,100 to 142,800. Atlanta lost 1,000 to 97,700. Baltimore dropped 900 to 53,100. Houston gained 1,600 to 99,200. Dallas rose 1,200 to 122,900. Orlando dropped 300 to 32,500, and Nashville slipped 100 to 32,400. San Antonio rose 1,100 to 33,900, and Tampa gained 400 to 45,100.

The Midwest dropped 16,800 in December. The largest decrease was in Chicago, which declined 5,700 to 159,400, followed by Cleveland’s drop of 300 to 34,400. Detroit increased 2,200 to 78,400, and Minneapolis-St. Paul rose 1,600 to 87,900. Indianapolis dropped 2,000 to 32,000, Kansas City decreased by 700 to 38,900, Columbus rose 600 to 38,200, St. Louis increased by 400 to 42,100, and Cincinnati remained constant at 33,700.

The number of postings does not, however, tell the entire story. A crucial factor is how many unemployed people are seeking jobs and how much competition there is for the jobs that are available. The Conference Board HWOL’s Supply/Demand rate relates the number of unemployed workers to the number of advertised vacancies. Based on November data (the latest available unemployment data for metro areas), 6 major metro areas (Salt Lake City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, Oklahoma City, San Jose, and San Francisco) saw more job openings than unemployed workers (S/D rates of 0.61, 0.76, 0.80, 0.94, 0.94, and 0.99 respectively) (Table 6). Other favorable markets for job-seekers included Austin (1.02), and Columbus (1.05).

In contrast, unemployed workers face great competition for each advertised position in Riverside (over 4 unemployed for every opening) as well as Los Angeles and Memphis (nearly 3 unemployed for every opening). In 42 of the 52 metro areas, however, there are now fewer than 2 unemployed per advertised opening. (See Table 6 for complete metro area Supply/Demand rates.)


  • In December, among the 10 largest online job categories, 7 posted declines (Table C)

Occupational Changes for the Month of December

In December, all occupations but Healthcare Practitioners and Technical, Management, and Computer and Mathematical occupations posted declines. The largest decline in December was in Office and Administrative Support ads, which decreased 19,400 to 557,900, largely due to decreased demand for customer service representatives. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 1.75, i.e. about 2 unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening.

Transportation ads decreased 16,900 in December to 336,900 as demand for truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer decreased. Sales and related ads fell 12,400 to 587,200 due to a loss in ads for retail salespeople and first-line supervisors of retail sales workers. Business and Financial ads decreased 8,000 to 326,800 due to a decline in demand for accountants and management analysts.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical ads gained 6,500 in December to 565,600 as demand for registered nurses and physical therapists increased. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 0.44, i.e. about 2.3 advertised available openings for every job-seeker. (See Table 7 for Supply/Demand rates for all of the SOC categories.)

Management ads gained 4,700 in December to 473,800 as demand for general operations managers and food service managers increased. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 0.77, i.e. nearly 1.3 advertised available openings for every job-seeker.


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 2014

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

The next release is scheduled for Wednesday, February 4, at 10:00 AM ET

For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232


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Press Release
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