The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL)

This data series provides timely monthly measures of labor demand (advertised vacancies) at the national, regional, state, and metropolitan area levels.

Online Job Ads Increased 74,000 in December

04 Jan. 2017

  • The December gain followed a November decrease of 115,300
  • Most States showed small gains
  • Most occupations showed gains over the month

Online advertised vacancies increased 74,000 to 4,797,000 in December, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series,released today. The November Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.57 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 approximately 7.4 million in November.

“The HWOL series ended 2016 on a positive note, with a 74,000 increase,” said Gad Levanon, Chief Economist, North America, at The Conference Board. “The number of online job ads has been fluctuating around a steady trend in the second half of 2016.”

The Professional occupational category saw small losses in Management (-0.8), Business/Finance (-0.1), and gains Computer/Math (8.7) and Health (10.6). The Services/Production occupational category saw gains in most occupational groups led by Sales (14.6) and Office/Admin (21.3). 



  • Among the largest States, 19 rose and 1 declined
  • Among the 50 States, 45 rose, 3 declined, and 2 was constant

December Changes for States

In December, online labor demand was up in 45 States, down in 3, and constant in 2 (see Table 3). All four regions experienced increases.

The Midwest experienced an increase of 21,700 in December (Table A). Illinois grew 4,900 to 176,000. Michigan increased 4,400 to 150,700. Minnesota increased 2,400 to 128,600. Ohio increased 3,400 to 170,300. Wisconsin increased 4,100 to 101,600 and Missouri increased 4,300 to 106,300.Among the smaller States in the region, Indiana increased 2,200 to 76,500, Iowa increased 800 to 56,700, Nebraska grew 800 to 31,800, and North Dakota was constant at 16,400. Kansas increased 1,300 to 39,900 (Table 3).

The Northeast increased 51,600 in December. New York increased 10,400 to 293,700. Pennsylvania increased 10,700 to 203,500. New Jersey increased 8,200 to 150,000. Massachusetts increased 5,900 to 147,300. In the smaller States, Connecticut grew 3,400 to 68,700. Maine increased 5,900 to 22,700 and New Hampshire increased 3,500 to 27,000. Rhode Island increased 1,200 to 16,100 and Vermont grew 2,500 to 13,000.

The West increased 24,600 in December. California increased 14,300 to 559,400. Colorado decreased 2,900 to 119,700 and Washington increased 500 to 156,100. Arizona increased 500 to 96,400. Among the smaller States in theWest, Oregon increased 1,600 to 75,500. Utah increased 1,300 to 54,600. Nevada increased 1,500 to 47,000. Idaho increased 1,400 to 24,100 and New Mexico increased 1,100 to 25,600. Montana decreased 600 to 18,700 and Wyoming increased 400 to 7,300.  

The South increased 40,100 in December. Among the larger States in the region, Florida increased 10,200 to 254,600. Texas increased 700 to 322,200. Georgia increased 3,200 to 149,300. Virginia grew 5,300 to 148,500. North Carolina increased 3,400 to 131,400. Maryland increased 600 to 102,400. Among the smaller States, Alabama grew 3,400 to 49,900. Tennessee increased 1,600 to 82,500 and South Carolina increased 3,900 to 62,900. Kentucky increased 500 to 44,100 and Oklahoma increased 2,400 to 39,300. Louisiana grew 1,700 to 44,700 and Delaware increased 600 to 16,500. 

Supply/Demand Rates: Help Wanted OnLine calculates Supply/Demand rates for the 50 States (Table 4). The data are for November 2016, the latest month for which State unemployment figures are available. There were 7 States in which the number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed: South Dakota (0.71), Massachusetts (0.75), Colorado (0.76), North Dakota (0.77), New Hampshire (0.85), Utah (0.87), and Minnesota (0.91). The States with the highest Supply/Demand rates were Louisiana (3.04), Mississippi (2.87), and Alabama (2.77), 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 December, among the 20 largest metro areas, 17 gained, 2 declined, and 1 remained constant

  • Among the 52 metro areas, 47 rose, 4 declined, and 1 remained constant 

Metro Area Changes

In December, labor demand rose in 47 metro areas, 4 declined, and 1 remained constant. The MSAs with the largest changes in each of the regions were: Chicago (3,900) and Minneapolis-St Paul (3,000) in the Midwest; Los Angeles (4,800) and Denver (-2,700) in the West; Washington D.C. (3,500) and Tampa (3,100) in the South; and New York (10,100) and Boston (4,300) in the Northeast (See Table B and Table 5).

The West increased 24,600 in December. Los Angeles increased 4,800 to 171,700. Denver decreased 2,700 to 71,000. Phoenix increased 1,200 to 68,400 and San Francisco increased 1,300 to 110,800. Seattle-Tacoma increased 2,400 to 103,900 and San Jose increased 1,800to 53,700. Salt Lake City increased 900 to 31,400. San Diego increased 1,300 to 50,200. Portland increased 400 to 47,900 and Sacramento decreased 200 to 28,500. Honolulu decreased 400 to 13,900 and Las Vegas grew 1,100 to 31,400.

The South increased 40,100 in December. Washington DC grew 3,500 to 153,200 and Tampa increased 3,100 to 48,700. Houston decreased 600 to 60,100 and Atlanta increased 1,800 to 98,600. Dallas was constant at 109,100. Miami increased 2,400 to 68,700. Baltimore increased 500 to 52,700 and Austin increased 200 to 40,500. Charlotte increased 2,400 to 39,300. San Antonio increased 1,300 to 31,500 and Nashville increased 1,500 to 34,300. Birmingham grew 1,300 to 15,300. New Orleans grew 1,100 to 16,800. Louisville increased 500 to 17,400.

The Northeast increased 51,600 in December. New York increased 10,100 to 291,800 and Boston grew 4,300 to 112,300. Philadelphia increased 3,600 to 99,900. Pittsburgh increased 1,200 to 40,000 and Providence increased 1,300 to 22,400. Buffalo increased 1,100 to 16,700. Hartford increased 1,600 to 27,500 and Rochester increased 800 to 14,400.

The Midwest experienced an increase of 21,700 in December. Chicago increased 3,900 to 137,700 and Minneapolis-St. Paul increased 3,000 to 91,500. Detroit increased 2,500 to 72,700 and St. Louis grew 2,100 to 50,600. Columbus increased 900 to 36,500 and Cincinnati increased 1,600 to 36,300. Kansas City increased 1,800 to 44,000 and Cleveland grew 1,800 to 32,200. Milwaukee increased 2,200 to 29,600. Indianapolis increased 1,100 to 28,900.

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 October’s data (the latest available unemployment data for metro areas), 9 major metro areas saw more job openings than unemployed workers: Salt Lake City (S/D rate of 0.59), Boston (0.68), Denver (0.69), Minneapolis-St. Paul (0.74), San Jose (0.79), Austin (0.87), Washington, DC (0.88), Seattle-Tacoma (0.89), and San Francisco (0.91) (Table 6). Other favorable markets for job-seekers included Honolulu (1.01), Nashville (1.12), Hartford, (1.16), and Kansas City (1.19).

In contrast, unemployed workers face great competition for each advertised position in Riverside (almost 4 unemployed for every opening) as well as Houston and Birmingham (over 2 unemployed for every opening). In 45 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, seven of the largest ten online occupational categories posted increases

Occupational Changes for the Month of December

In December, seven of the ten largest online occupational categories posted increases.

Healthcare practitioners and technical ads increased 10,600 to 621,200. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 0.19, i.e. over 5 advertised openings per unemployed job-seeker (see Table C and Table 7).

Computer and mathematical science ads increased 8,700 to 509,800. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.31, i.e. over 3 advertised openings per unemployed job-seeker.

Management ads decreased 800 to 406,100. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.99 i.e. 1 unemployed job-seeker for every advertised available opening.

Sales and related ads increased 14,600 to 476,400. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 1.71, more than 1 unemployed job-seeker for every advertised available opening.

Office and administrative support ads increased 21,300 to 507,800. The supply/demand rate lies at 1.53, i.e. over 1 unemployed job-seeker for every advertised available opening.

Construction and extraction ads increased 7,800 to 134,600. The supply/demand rate lies at 4.82, i.e. almost 5 unemployed job-seeker for every advertised available opening.


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 organizationswith 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:



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:

The next release is Wednesday, February 1 at 10 AM.

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Press Release
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Technical Notes
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