The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL)

Online Labor Demand Decreased 31,500 in March

30 Mar. 2016

  • The first quarter of 2016 showed a decrease of 137,000
  • The Northeast and Midwest showed losses with South and West regions showing small gains
  • Note: March data incorporates the HWOL annual revision (see Program Notes on page 7)

 Download the complimentary National Historical Table 

Online advertised vacancies decreased 31,500 to 5,130,500 in March, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series,released today. The February Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.51 unemployed for each advertised vacancy with a total of 2.7 million more unemployed workers than the number of advertised vacancies. The number of unemployed was around 7.8 million in February.

“The last three quarters of revised data for 2015 were essentially flat, with the first quarter of 2016 showing a loss of 137,000,” said Gad Levanon, Chief Economist, North America, at The Conference Board. “For about the past year, employer demand has been in a hold pattern, but the most recent quarter’s data indicates some additional weakness in demand.”

In March, the Professional category saw widespread small losses with the largest loss in Healthcare Practitioners (−39.2). The Services/Production category generally saw small gains with the exception of losses in Transportation (−19.0) and Healthcare Support (−3.8).




  • Among the largest States, 6 rose, 13 posted losses, and constant in 1
  • Among the 50 States, 14 rose, 34 States declined, and constant in 2


March Changes for States

In March, online labor demand was up in 14 States (see Table 3), down in 34, and constant in 2. Two regions experienced increases while the other two had decreases.

The Midwest experienced a decrease of 14,300 in March (Table A). Michigan decreased 12,900 to 163,400 and Ohio declined 3,200 to 186,000. Illinois declined 4,000 to 195,200. Minnesota fell 400 to 141,200. Missouri decreased 3,500 to 94,300. Wisconsin increased 8,400 to 118,000. Among the smaller States in the region, Indiana decreased 3,200 to 87,700, and Kansas decreased 2,000 to 43,900. Iowa remained constant at 65,500, Nebraska fell 300 to 35,900, and North Dakota decreased 600 to 17,200 (Table 3).

The Northeast declined 19,700 in March. Pennsylvania decreased 5,200, to 212,400, the largest change in the region. New York fell 4,600 to 290,900 and Massachusetts decreased 2,800 to 157,300. New Jersey declined 2,400 to 157,400. In the smaller States, Connecticut lost 1,700 to 61,900. Maine decreased 700 to 21,400 and New Hampshire fell 1,800 to 26,500. Rhode Island fell 400 to 16,400 and Vermont inched up 200 to 10,400.

The West increased 5,200 in March. Washington increased 4,100 to 134,700. California decreased 300 to 615,000. Colorado increased 100 to 123,900 and Arizona remained constant at 104,700. Among the smaller States in theWest, Oregon decreased 1,200 to 78,900 and Utah grew 2,400 to 64,100. Nevada decreased 600 to 47,500. Idaho decreased 700 to 25,300, and New Mexico decreased 1,100 to 29,000. Montana increased 100 to 21,900 while Wyoming decreased 400 to 9,500.

The South increased 1,800. Among the larger States in the region, Texas grew 6,700, to 370,800. Virginia increased 6,000 to 161,300. Florida decreased 4,600 to 264,800 and Georgia increased 2,700 to 152,500. North Carolina decreased 200 to 140,300. Maryland fell 3,900 to 109,000. Among the smaller States, Alabama grew 300 to 53,400. Tennessee increased 2,200 to 89,100 and Kentucky declined 2,900 to 51,400. South Carolina fell 3,000 to 63,000 and Oklahoma decreased 1,800 to 43,300. Louisiana fell 1,500 to 47,100 and Delaware decreased 600 to 16,400.

Supply/Demand Rates: Help Wanted OnLine calculates Supply/Demand rates for the 50 States (Table 4). The data are for February 2016, the latest month for which State unemployment figures are available. There were 9 States in which the number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed: South Dakota (0.61), North Dakota (0.68), Colorado (0.69), New Hampshire (0.71), Minnesota (0.79), Utah (0.81), Nebraska (0.84), Iowa (0.96), and Massachusetts (0.99). The States with the highest Supply/Demand rates were Mississippi (2.76), Louisiana (2.63), West Virginia (2.62), and Alabama (2.53), 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, 17 rose, 34 metro areas declined, and constant in 1 (Table 5)


Metro Area Changes

In March, labor demand rose in 17 of the 52 largest metro areas, fell in 34, and 1 was constant. The MSAs with the largest changes in each of the regions were: Detroit (−8,600) and Milwaukee (2,600) in the Midwest; Seattle-Tacoma (2,800) and Los Angeles2,600) in the West; Baltimore (−3,100) and Dallas (2,400) in the South; and New York (−3,200) and Boston (−2,200) in the Northeast (See Table B and Table 5).

The West gained 5,200. Seattle-Tacoma increased 2,800 to 87,300 and Los Angeles increased 2,600 to 187,600. San Francisco inched up 400 to 123,100. Denver fell 600 to 71,400. San Jose decreased 1,600to 58,500.  Phoenix gained 500 to 74,500. San Diego increased 400 to 52,000. Portland decreased 400 to 48,900. Sacramento increased 800 to 32,200 and Salt Lake City grew 1,700 to 35,600.

The South increased 1,800. Baltimore decreased 3,100 to 57,100 and Dallas increased 2,400 to 121,900.

Washington, DC decreased 1,700 to 160,800. Miami fell 2,200 to 75,000. Atlanta increased 800 to 100,200 and Houston decreased 300 to 77,500. San Antonio fell 1,700 to 32,600. Tampa decreased 1,100 to 47,500 and Charlotte decreased 1,500 to 39,000. Birmingham decreased 500 to 14,900. New Orleans grew 300 to 16,400. Louisville decreased 300 to 21,100 and Memphis increased 300 to 16,900, respectively.

The Northeast decreased 19,700. New York declined 3,200 to 283,600 and Boston decreased 2,200 to 118,000. Philadelphia fell 2,000 to 104,000. Pittsburgh dropped 1,400 to 43,900. Buffalo decreased 200 to 17,100. Hartford fell 400 to 25,200 and Rochester decreased 500 to 14,800. Providence fell 600 to 22,600.

The Midwest decreased 14,300. Detroit declined 8,600 to 77,000 and Milwaukee increased 2,600 to 35,700. Chicago decreased 2,000 to 152,300. Minneapolis-St. Paul decreased 1,300 to 97,500. St. Louis decreased 1,700 to 46,500. Columbus fell 1,500 to 38,300 and Cincinnati increased 400 to 40,300. Cleveland declined 1,600 to 36,400. Kansas City decreased 1,800 to 41,200 and Indianapolis lost 1,000 to 32,900.

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), 10 major metro areas saw more job openings than unemployed workers: Denver (S/D rate of 0.54), Salt Lake City (0.57), San Jose (0.64), Minneapolis-St. Paul (0.67), San Francisco (0.75), Austin (0.78), Washington, DC (0.78), Boston (0.84), Honolulu (0.91), and Nashville (0.96) (Table 6). Other favorable markets for job-seekers included Columbus (1.00), Cleveland (1.07), Cincinnati (1.08), and Kansas City (1.08).

In contrast, unemployed workers face great competition for each advertised position in Riverside (almost 3 unemployed for every opening) as well as Las Vegas (over 2 unemployed for every opening). In 50 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 March, five of the largest ten online job categories posted increases (Table C)


Occupational Changes for the Month of March

In March, five of the largest ten online job categories posted increases.

Healthcare practitioners and technical ads decreased 39,200 to 614,200. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 0.19, i.e. about 5 advertised openings per unemployed job-seeker (see Table C and Table 7).

Business and financial operations ads decreased 5,300 to 307,600. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.85, i.e. over 1 advertised opening per unemployed job-seeker. Computer and Mathematical Science ads decreased 6,500 to 566,500. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.21, i.e. almost 5 advertised openings per unemployed job-seeker.

Transportation and material moving ads declined 19,000 to 389,700. The supply/demand rate lies at 1.40, i.e. over 1 unemployed job-seeker for every advertised available opening.

Sales and related ads increased 10,200 to 556,900. Their supply/demand rate is 1.32, i.e. over 1 unemployed per opening.

Food Preparation and serving related ads increased 8,300 to 256,400. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 2.47, more than 2 unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening. Construction ads increased 7,200 to 134,900. The supply/demand rate lies at 5.15, i.e. about five unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening.



HWOL 2016 Annual Revision

With the March 2016 press release, the HWOL program has incorporated its annual revision, which helps ensure the accuracy and consistency of the HWOL time series. This year’s annual revision includes updates to the job board coverage, a revision of the historical data from September 2014 forward, and the annual update of the seasonal adjustment factors. The 2016 revision has resulted in smoother seasonally adjusted series with most levels and trends relatively consistent with the prior series.

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:


The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membershipand 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 Analytics, a CEB Company

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:



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Release Dates for 2016

May 4
June 1
July 6
August 3
August 31
October 5
November 2
November 30


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

For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232


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Download related PDFs

Press Release
With graph and summary table

National Historical Table (Complimentary)

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