The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL)

Online Labor Demand Increased 13,500 in January

03 Feb. 2016

  • January starts 2016 essentially flat
  • Regions and States also show little change
  • Note: January data incorporate updated seasonal adjustment factors; February data will incorporate the HWOL annual revisions.


Online advertised vacancies increased 13,500 to 5,496,500 in January, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series,released today. The December Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.44 unemployed for each advertised vacancy with a total of 2.4 million more unemployed workers than the number of advertised vacancies. The number of unemployed was around 7.9 million in December.

“January showed a disappointing start for 2016,” said Gad Levanon, Managing Director of Macroeconomic and Labor Market Research at The Conference Board.  “Labor demand levels remain very high but growth has continued to be slow since 2013.”

 In January, the Professional category saw large gains in Computer/Math (+29.0) and Healthcare (+24.2) with small gains in most other categories. The Services/Production category saw large losses in Sales (−20.5) and Food (−7.7) with a mixture of small gains/losses in the other categories.





  • Among the largest States, 13 rose and 7 posted losses in January
  • Among the 50 States, 27 rose and 23 States declined


January Changes for States

 In January, online labor demand was up in 23 States (see Table 3), and down in 27. Three regions experienced increases and one decreased.

The Midwest experienced an increase of 8,400 in January (Table A). Illinois grew 5,500 to 214,900. Ohio declined 9,100 to 218,100. Wisconsin decreased 9,200 to 109,400. Michigan increased 7,100 to 203,400 and Minnesota increased 5,400 to 144,800. Missouri grew 4,200 to 103,200. Among the smaller States in the region, Indiana rose 1,700 to 95,900, and Kansas declined 100 to 47,300. Iowa increased 1,500 to 69,200, Nebraska fell 1,500 to 38,700, and North Dakota increased 600 to 17,500 (Table 3).

 The Northeast declined 18,200 in January. New York fell 10,600 to 314,300, the largest change in the region Pennsylvania decreased 3,200, to 231,600. Massachusetts decreased 3,200 to 164,600. New Jersey grew 5,000 to 169,700. In the smaller States, Connecticut lost 4,800 to 71,100. Maine and Rhode Island fell 600 to 20,800 and 18,800. Vermont declined 1,100 to 10,600 and New Hampshire rose 800 to 28,300.

 The West increased 15,100 in January. California increased 13,600 to 653,000. Colorado increased 1,700 to 134,100 and Arizona rose 3,000 to 107,400. Washington decreased 2,100 to 134,600. Among the smaller States in theWest, Oregon declined 900 to 81,400 and Utah fell 2,400 to 61,600. Idaho gained 600 to 26,600, and New Mexico increased 800 to 31,400. Nevada increased 900 to 49,000 and Montana increased 400 to 22,400. Wyoming declined 400 to 9,500.

 The South increased 4,300. Among the larger States in the region, Texas fell 11,300, to 374,000, the largest change in the region. Florida increase 1,900 to 287,700 and Georgia grew 1,800 to 162,000. North Carolina increased 700 to 149,000. Virginia increased 2,800 to 164,100. Maryland grew 6,300 to 119,600. Among the smaller States, Alabama fell 1,200 to 54,500. Tennessee decreased 4,600 to 90,600; and Kentucky declined 100 to 55,600. South Carolina fell 200 to 68,200 and Oklahoma increased 2,100 to 45,300. Louisiana fell 1,100 to 51,300 and Delaware decreased 400 to 17,200.


Supply/Demand Rates: Help Wanted OnLine calculates Supply/Demand rates for the 50 States (Table 4). The data are for December 2015, 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: North Dakota (0.67), South Dakota (0.70), Nebraska (0.74), Colorado (0.75), Minnesota (0.77), Utah (0.79), New Hampshire (0.84), Iowa (0.86), and Montana (0.96). The States with the highest Supply/Demand rates were Mississippi (2.76), Louisiana (2.48), West Virginia (2.39), and Alabama (2.39), 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 November, 31 rose and 21 metro areas declined (Table 5)


Metro Area Changes

 In November, labor demand rose in 31 of the 52 largest metro areas and fell in 21. The MSAs with the largest changes in each of the regions were: Detroit (6,500) and Chicago (3,900) in the Midwest; Los Angeles (6,600) and Seattle-Tacoma (−3,600) in the West; Washington, DC (4,000) and Baltimore (3,400) in the South; and Hartford (−2,100) and Buffalo (−2,000) in the Northeast (See Table B and Table 5).

 The West increased 15,100. Los Angeles increased 6,600 to 196,000. Seattle-Tacoma declined 3,600 to 88,200. San Jose increased 3,100to 65,900.  San Francisco increased 2,800 to 134,400. Denver rose 2,500 to 78,800. Phoenix increased 2,000 to 76,100. San Diego increased 1,700 to 54,200. Sacramento increased 1,400 to 32,700. Portland increased 700 to 49,400 and Salt Lake City fell 1,600 to 35,200.

The South increased 4,300. Washington, DC increased 4,000 to 172,000. Baltimore increased 3,400 to 65,100 and Miami grew 2,500 to 83,200. Dallas fell 2,800 to 121,900. Atlanta increased 1,700 to 108,000 and Houston decreased 700 to 80,000. Birmingham lost 1,000 to 15,300. San Antonio grew 600 to 35,000. Tampa inched up 400 to 50,500 and Charlotte inched up 300 to 43,400. New Orleans lost 600 to 17,000. Both Louisville and Memphis fell 400 to 22,200 and 18,000 respectively.

 The Northeast decreased 18,200. Hartford fell 2,100 to 28,600. Buffalo decreased 2,000 to 19,500 and Rochester decreased 1,600 to 17,400. New York inched down 100 to 308,200 and Boston increased 600 to 128,400. Philadelphia rose 1,500 to 111,100.  Providence fell 1,400 to 25,800. Pittsburgh dropped 200 to 46,700.

The Midwest increased 8,400. Detroit added 6,500 to 102,500. Chicago increased 3,900 to 167,600 and St. Louis gained 3,400 to 52,000. Minneapolis-St. Paul increased 3,100 to 100,800. Indianapolis added 2,000 to 36,600. Kansas City grew 1,000 to 43,200. Columbus fell 300 to 45,600 and Cincinnati decreased 400 to 46,100. Cleveland declined 1,500 to 41,600 and Milwaukee declined 2,200 to 31,800.

 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), 11 major metro areas saw more job openings than unemployed workers: Salt Lake City (S/D rate of 0.56), Minneapolis-St. Paul (0.63), Denver (0.66), San Jose (0.68), San Francisco (0.76), Austin (0.78), Washington, DC (0.85), Boston (0.88), Columbus (0.92), Hartford (0.97) and Honolulu (0.98) (Table 6). Other favorable markets for job-seekers included Seattle-Tacoma (1.01) Cincinnati (1.01), Cleveland (1.07), and Louisville (1.10).

 In contrast, unemployed workers face great competition for each advertised position in Riverside (over 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 January, five of the largest ten online job categories posted increases (Table C)


Occupational Changes for the Month of January

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

Computer and Mathematical Science ads added 29,000 to 627,100. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.18, i.e. over 5 advertised openings per unemployed job-seeker. Healthcare practitioners and technical ads increased 24,200 to 674,100. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 0.20, i.e. about 5 advertised openings per unemployed job-seeker (see Table C and Table 7).

Sales and related ads declined 20,500 to 570,900. The supply/demand rate lies at 1.46, i.e. over one unemployed job-seeker for every advertised available opening. Management ads decreased 8,300 to 472,400. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.70, i.e. over 1 advertised opening per unemployed job-seeker.

 Office and Administrative Support ads increased 7,100, to 602,400. Their supply/demand rate is 1.29, i.e. over one unemployed per opening. Food and preparation and serving related ads decreased 7,700 to 261,600. The supply/demand rate for these occupations lies at 2.64, i.e. over two unemployed job-seekers 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,


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Release Dates for 2016

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


The next release is scheduled for Wednesday, March 2 at 10:00 AM ET.

For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232


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