New Online Help Wanted Ads Increase Over the Past Year

by Jake Procino

April 13, 2022

The number of new online help wanted job ads increased by 45% in Oregon between February 2021 and February 2022, according to the Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) data series. For the entire U.S. over the same time period, new ads increased by 37%.

The strong increase in Oregon new ads follows Oregon’s rapid job recovery from significant job losses during the COVID-19 recession in 2020. Total nonfarm employment increased by an estimated 102,900 over the year, the third largest over-the-year employment increase in Oregon’s history (the top two happened in April 2021 and May 2021). The increase in new ads also comes despite the state’s unemployment rate dropping 2.2 percentage points over the past 12 months to a historically low 4.0%.

Across the state, all of Oregon’s local workforce areas (and 30 of 36 counties) saw an increase in new ads in February 2022 compared with February 2021. Lane County and the East Cascades saw the largest increases at 92% and 84%, respectively, outpacing the statewide gain of 45%. Rogue Valley saw the smallest increase at 3%, followed by Eastern Oregon at 19%.
The vast increase in new ads compared with the relatively low number of unemployed underscores just how tight the labor market is in Oregon. The number of new ads post-2020 are much higher than pre-2020. The number of unemployed people has slightly increased during the same time span. After spiking in April and May 2020, the level of unemployed has swiftly returned to near the pre-pandemic level. There are only an estimated 1.9 unemployed workers for each new online job ad posted in February, the third-lowest ratio in Oregon since 2012. 
New online help wanted ads in the HWOL data series, tracked by The Conference Board-Burning Glass, 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: not all job openings are posted online, certain industries tend to post jobs online most often, and some jobs are posted online continuously as a means of collecting resumes without the intention of an immediate hire. Changes in the price for advertising jobs on job board sites also affect the number of help wanted ads.

Even though the HWOL data series does not perfectly measure all job openings, it still provides a way to measure trends in labor demand, employment, and occupational mix and growth.

Top 20 Most-Advertised Occupations

The job category with the most new online help wanted ads in February 2022 was registered nurses, with 1,625 total new ads – nearly double the number of new ads than the previous year. Retail salespersons and sales representatives came in second with 1,295 new ads. Though if that category was combined with first-line supervisors of retail sales workers (sixth most with 938 new ads) into one “retail” category, it would have the most new ads with 2,233. Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives comes in with 1,148 new ads, rounding out the top three.

Personal care aides saw the largest decrease in new ads, with 164 fewer new ads in February 2022 than in February 2021. However, the occupation still had the 20th-most new ads in February 2022 with 385.

It is important to keep in mind that not all job occupations are represented online equally. Some jobs – like computer occupations – tend to be posted more frequently on online job boards, while other jobs – like construction or agriculture – are less likely to be posted online.


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