Updated March 27 at 12:27am

Labor demand drops in Northeast, across U.S.


NEW YORK – Labor demand posted online in the Northeast fell by 44,800 in August, according to a new report from The Conference Board Help Wanted Online data series.

The Conference Board data series measures the number of new, first-time online jobs and jobs re-posted from the previous month from more than 16,000 Internet job boards, corporate boards and smaller job sites across the country.

In August, labor demand online declined in 42 of 50 states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The Ocean State saw labor demand decrease by 800 while it fell by 4,100 in Massachusetts.

The supply/demand rate for the United States in July – the latest month for which the national unemployment number is available – stands at 2.67, indicating there are between 2 and 3 unemployed workers for every one advertised vacancy.

In July, the Providence metro area saw a supply/demand rate of 2.8.

Nationally, there are 8 million more people out work than there are advertised online job vacancies, according to the report.

“So far, 2012 is shaping up to be a very slow-growth recovery for labor demand,” June Shelp, vice president at The Conference Board, said in prepared remarks. “August is a month when we normally expect to see employers gear up for the fall, but this year, labor demand was disappointingly below seasonal expectations.”

Shelp added that since the beginning of 2012, the U.S. has an average monthly increase of vacancies posted of 45,000 and 45 of the 50 states are still showing gains for the year.

The Conference Board report broke job listings into two groups, professional occupations and service/production occupations. According to the report, the contrast between the two categories is “quite glaring” in terms of labor supply and labor demand.

“While the number of advertised vacancies for the two groups are close to 50/50, the number of unemployed seeking these jobs are not,” said the report, adding that roughly 80 percent of jobless workers are in service/production occupations, meaning that for every one service/production industry job add, there are four unemployed workers.

“Based on the numbers alone, looking for work is a starkly different experience for the two groups and much easier for the unemployed in the professional category,” said Shelp. “Some of the more difficult challenges facing the economic recovery (and the unemployed) are finding alternative job opportunities for roughly one-third of the unemployed that are in four Service/Production occupations.”

The report pointed that construction had a supply/demand rate of 14.5, building/ground maintenance had an S/D rate of 10.4, production had a rate of 6.2 and transportation had a rate of 4.4.

“While there will be some cross-over opportunities from these occupations to the more readily-available jobs in the professional category, in many cases the educational gap will prove to be too great,” said the report. “This will continue to leave many of the unemployed in a very challenging job-search environment with very few openings and a large number of job-seekers.”


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