The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL)

Online Labor Demand Falls by 292,100 in March

02 Apr. 2014

  • March loss offsets February gain and leaves Q1’14 basically unchanged 
  • March losses occurred in 18 of the 22 Standard Occupation Codes

Download the complimentary National Historical Table

Online advertised vacancies were down 292,100 to 4,894,100 in March, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series, released today. The February Supply/Demand rate stands at 2.0 unemployed for each vacancy with a total of 5.3 million more unemployed workers than the number of advertised vacancies.

“The March decline largely offsets the February gain and left the first quarter of 2014 with a minor drop of 50,000. It’s not the start of the year we were hoping for,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board. “The flat trend that we saw throughout last year seems to have continued into the first quarter of this year.”

The Supply/Demand rates show that for professional jobs like physicians and computer workers there are 3 to 5 ads for every unemployed worker, making it hard for employers to find candidates to fill their advertised jobs. The situation is quite different for occupations like construction and production workers where there are anywhere from 4 to 7 job seekers competing for every opening (See Table 7).



  • Nineteen of the 20 largest States (all but Michigan) across the nation posted declines in ads in March
  • Among the 50 States, Michigan (+1,600) and Vermont (unchanged) were the only States without losses

March Changes for States

Most States saw their large February gains offset by the March losses. In March, online labor demand was down in 48 States with Michigan as the only State with an increase (+1,600). Vermont was unchanged, and South Dakota was down a modest 100 (Table 3).

The March losses were spread across the nation with the largest losses in the South (-91,700) and the West

 (-91,100) followed closely by the Midwest (-78,900). The smallest loss for March was in the Northeast, down 28,400, which largely offset its February gain of 28,500.

The South’s loss of 91,700 reflected losses in all of the largest States, which accounted for 70 percent of the region’s loss. Contributing to the March loss were Texas (-18,900) and Florida (-18,700).  Other large States with losses included Virginia (-9,200) and North Carolina (-7,300) (See Table A). Smaller States in the South contributed about one third of the region’s loss. Declines included a drop of 8,200 in Tennessee and drops of 3,300 in both Alabama and Kentucky and 3,100 in Oklahoma (Table 3).

The March loss in the West was 91,100 with over half of the loss in California (-48,700). Other large Western States with losses included Washington (-19,800), Arizona (-6,600), and Colorado (-5,100). Among the smaller States, Oregon was down 4,600 with Utah down 3,000 and New Mexico down 1,500.

The Midwest lost 78,900 in March. Declines were posted in the larger States, including Ohio (-19,500) and Illinois (-12,100). Other large States with losses included Minnesota (-9,200) and Wisconsin (-7,700) (See Table A for the other large States). In the smaller States in the Midwest, Indiana lost 9,100 advertised vacancies, Missouri was down 5,700, Iowa declined 3,100 and North Dakota was down 1,600. South Dakota lost just 100.

The smallest loss was in the Northeast with Massachusetts down 8,400, which largely offset last month’s gain of 9,500. New Jersey was down 8,300, and Pennsylvania declined 2,800. New York, the other large State in the Northeast, dropped 1,600. Losses in the smaller States included Connecticut’s loss of 4,700, which offset the February gain of 3,200, Maine was down 1,100, and Vermont was unchanged (Table 3).

Supply/ Demand Rates: Help Wanted OnLine calculates Supply/Demand rates for the 50 States (Table 4). The data are for February 2014, the latest month for which State unemployment data are available. There were four States in which the number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed: North Dakota (0.46), South Dakota (0.82), Nebraska (0.83), and Utah (0.90). The States with the highest Supply/Demand rates were Mississippi (3.48), Kentucky (3.15), and Arkansas (3.09). All of these States indicated that there were three or more 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, among the 20 largest metro areas, only Houston posted a gain (2,100) while Detroit was unchanged
  • Help Wanted OnLine provides monthly data for 52 metro areas.  In March two areas (in addition to Houston and Detroit) posted gains -- Las Vegas (600) and Buffalo (200). Austin was unchanged (Table 5).

Metro Area Changes

Three of the largest metro areas—Seattle, Minneapolis, and Dallas—that posted February gains of over 10 percent were down over 10 percent in March (Table B). However, since March 2013, 30 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately increased in the number of advertised vacancies and 22 declined.

Losses were posted in March in all of the largest metro areas in the four regions – the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West – with the only gain in Houston. Detroit was unchanged (Table B). Metro areas that posted the largest numerical losses included three large metro areas in the West Los Angeles down 17,600, Seattle-Tacoma down 15,500, and San Francisco down 15,000. In the Midwest, Chicago dropped 13,600 and Dallas, a large metro area in Texas, declined by 13,400. The Northeast posted smaller losses with the largest in the New York metro area, a drop of 7,200 (See Table B and Table 5). 

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 January data (the latest available unemployment data for metro areas), only Salt Lake City was among the major metro areas that saw more job openings than unemployed workers (S/D rate of 0.71) (Table 6).

In contrast, a larger number of unemployed people seeking available jobs will make the job search much harder. Looking at this from the job-seeker’s perspective, unemployed workers face great competition for each opening in Riverside, CA (more than 5 unemployed for every opening) as well as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Sacramento (over 3 unemployed for every opening).  (See Table 6 for the Supply/Demand rates for the 52 metro areas.)

The job search is easier in 30 of the 52 metro areas where there are job advertisements and fewer than 2 unemployed seeking jobs. Besides Salt Lake City, the metro areas that have just over one job-seeker for every opening included the metro areas of Minneapolis (1.10), San Jose (1.14), and Oklahoma City (1.15). The Nation’s capital also has a favorable Supply/Demand rate of 1.19. 


  • In March, all 10 of the largest online job categories reported losses
  • Food preparation and serving had almost 4 unemployed for every available job

Occupational Changes for the Month of March

In March, the ten occupations with the largest number of advertised vacancies all posted declines.

Transportation and Sales workers faced the largest numerical decline, down 68,900 and 48,500, respectively.  The decline for transportation reflected cutbacks for truck drivers and employers held off advertising for sales workers and their supervisors (Table C).

In March, eight of the ten professional categories (SOC 11- 29) posted declines. The largest numerical drop was in the Computer and Math category, down 28,100.  (See Table 7 for all of the SOC categories.)  Employers’ demand was down in a range of computer jobs including software and web developers, systems analysts, and computer support personnel. However, Computer and Math is the 2-digit SOC category with the lowest number of unemployed relative to the demand. The Supply/Demand rate is 0.2, indicating there are 5 ads for every unemployed worker and significant demand for workers in this field. Healthcare Professionals (with a Supply/Demand rate of 0.3 or over 3 jobs for every job seeker)was down 7,000, reflecting a lower demand for nurses.

Other Professional categories that posted declines included Management (-19,200) and Business Operations (-19,000). Lower demand for marketing, medical, and sales managers contributed to the decline in the management category. Business operations reflected lower demand for accountants and market managers. 

The Service/Production category also saw declines in March. Ten of the twelve occupational categories declined with Protective Services remaining unchanged and the small occupational category of Farming up by 100. The largest numerical decline was in the Transportation category (-68,900) and reflected a drop in demand for truck drivers. Demand for Sales workers declined (-48,500) indicating there was less demand for retail sales workers. The other categories that showed large drops were Healthcare Support workers (-41,800) and Office workers, down 25,800. In these two categories there was less demand for healthcare support such as home health aides and nursing and medical assistants. Customer support and executive secretaries in the office work field accounted for the decline in office workers.


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 or



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,


The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

WANTED Technologies Corporation

WANTED is a leading supplier of real-time business intelligence solutions for the talent marketplace. Using technology to gather data from corporate career sites and online job boards, WANTED builds products to help our users make better human capital decisions faster. Users of our products include corporate human resources departments, market analysts and employment services firms as well as the federal, state and local labor market analysts that use HWOL. For more information, please visit:


Haver Analytics is the premier provider of time series data for the Global Strategy and Research community. Haver Analytics was founded in 1978 as a consulting firm and today provides the highest quality data and software for industry professionals. Haver provides products and services to clients in financial services, government, academia and various industry groups from consulting to manufacturing. From more information please see:


Release Dates for 2014

April 30
June 4
July 2
July 30
September 3
October 1
November 5
December 3


The next release is scheduled for Wednesday, April 30, at 10:00 AM ET.

For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232


Member Exclusive

The Conference Board Help Wanted Online® Members Login

Download related PDFs

Press Release
With graph and summary table

National Historical Table (Complimentary)

Technical Notes
Underlying detail, diffusion indexes, components, contributions and graphs

  • Human Capital
  • Back to Top