Help Wanted Ads During the Holiday Season

by Felicia Bechtoldt

January 9, 2018

Online job ads increased by 7.2 percent (+5,300) in Oregon and 5.6 percent (+827,400) in the United States between November and December 2017, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted Online data series (HWOL). This reflects an increase in the labor demand before the holiday season. Some businesses hire extra workers, often on a temporary basis, to get them through this busy time of year.
This growth in job ads follows a period of decline caused by Craigslist charging fees for job ads in all areas in the U.S. In Oregon, the cost for posting job ads varies by area ranging from $7 in Eastern Oregon, Coastal Oregon, Roseburg, and Klamath Falls to $35 in the Portland metro area. Job ads posted through Craigslist are a major source of online job ads picked up by HWOL. In Oregon, job ads from Craigslist represented 41 percent of all job ads collected by HWOL in December 2017.

The number of HWOL ads, which had been stable prior to 2015, started drifting downwards after the price increases in the Portland metro area in October 2015 and in other areas of the state in 2016. Online job ads in Oregon were slightly higher in December 2017 than in December 2016. Oregon’s unemployment rate continues to be low, at 4.2 percent, and nonfarm employment grew by 1.4 percent (+30,600 jobs) between November 2016 and November 2017.

Changes in ad fees on Craigslist highlight one of many reasons the HWOL data series does not provide an exact measure of job openings. Additionally, not all openings are posted online, and certain industries tend to post jobs online more often. Some job ads, like those for construction, farming, logging, and fishing, are not as likely to be posted online. Others, like computer occupations, show up more frequently on job boards. Some jobs are also posted online continuously as a means of collecting resumes without the intention of an immediate hire. Despite not measuring all job openings, the HWOL data series provides trends on online job postings by location and occupational mix and growth.

Truck Drivers Are the Most-Advertised Occupation in Oregon
With the increase of shopping during the holidays, truck drivers were by far the occupation with the highest number of job ads in December 2017. Across the state, about 1,400 ads were posted for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 700 ads were posted for light and delivery service truck drivers.
Most in-demand occupations across the state were found in both metro and non-metro areas. Retail salespersons, supervisors and managers of retail sales workers, registered nurses, and social and human services assistants topped the list in most regions.

Some metro and non-metro areas saw a few occupations high on the list that weren’t prevalent in other areas. Employers in the Portland metro area advertised heavily for software developers. Forest firefighters were in the top five most-advertised online occupations in non-metro areas. Employers in the Bend-Redmond metro area advertised heavily for construction carpenters.

Job seekers not fitting the mold of these top-recruited positions should not feel discouraged by the limited lists. Help wanted ads could be found for hundreds of occupations in each area of the state. Although there is a consistent demand for certain occupations across the state, employers are advertising job openings in a wide range of different occupations.

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