Help Wanted Ads See a Modest Decline

by Felicia Bechtoldt

October 4, 2018

Help wanted job ads fell by 0.9 percent in Oregon between August 2017 and August 2018, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine data series (HWOL). Job ads increased by 2.0 percent across the nation.

Oregon’s job ad decline in August 2018 follows a record-low unemployment rate and modest job gains during the year. The unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in August 2018 and has been at very low levels for the past 20 months. The number of unemployed people dropped to 80,500 in August 2018, which is down from 88,000 in August 2017. The low number of unemployed reflects a very tight job market. In addition, in August Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by a modest 900 jobs.

Across the state, eighteen of Oregon’s 36 counties experienced faster job ad declines than the state as a whole. The counties that saw large job ad declines relative to the year before were Lane (-536), Deschutes (-491), Jackson (-383), and Clackamas (-313). Counties with large job ad increases included Benton (+260), Lincoln (+163), Marion (+126), and Wasco (+84).

Help wanted ads, tracked by Wanted Analytics and The Conference Board, are an indicator of demand for workers. While these ads provide a proxy for labor market demand, they do not provide an exact measure of job openings for a few reasons. First, not all openings are posted online, and certain industries tend to post jobs online more often. In addition, some jobs are posted online continuously as a means of collecting resumes without the intention of an immediate hire. Price changes for advertising job ads on job boards also affect the number of help wanted ads that are captured.

Despite not measuring all job openings, the HWOL data series provides a way to measure trends in employment, real-time changes in labor demand, and occupational mix and growth.

Top 20 Most-Advertised Occupations

Employers placed more ads for registered nurses, by far, than any other occupation in August 2018. About 3,400 ads went out for nurses across the state. Most in-demand occupations across the state were found in both metro and non-metro areas. Registered nurses, truck drivers, retail salespersons, customer service representatives, social and human service assistants, and supervisors of retail sales workers topped the list in most regions.
Employers in East Cascades, Eastern Oregon, and Southern Oregon advertised heavily for forest and conservation technicians. Forest and conservation technicians lead forest workers in forest propagation, fire prevention, and suppression, assist in managing and protecting rangelands and wildlife habitats, and compile data pertaining to size and condition of forest tracts.

Maids and housekeeping cleaners were heavily advertised in northwestern Oregon counties. Software developers were the top occupation advertised in the Portland metro area.

Occupations are not always represented equally online. Some job ads, like those for construction workers, are not as likely to be posted online. Others, like computer occupations, show up more frequently on job boards.

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