Online Help Wanted Ads See a Decline over the Past Year

by Anna Johnson

March 25, 2019

Help wanted job ads fell by 7.6 percent in Oregon between February 2018 and February 2019, according to The Help Wanted OnLine data series (HWOL). Nationally, online job ads remained unchanged, with a 0.1 percentage point increase from February 2018 to February 2019.

Oregon’s job ad decline in February 2019 follows a low unemployment rate and modest job gains during the year. The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in February 2019 and has been at very low levels for the past two years. The number of unemployed people was 92,500 in February 2019, which is up from 87,300 in February 2018. In addition, February 2018 Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment grew by 29,500 jobs.

Across the state, all of Oregon’s local workforce areas saw a decrease in online help wanted ads from February 2018 to February 2019, except for the East Cascades Area, which saw no change. Southwestern Oregon had 23 percent fewer ads in February 2019 than in February 2018. This was the largest over-the-year decline out of all the regions.
Help wanted ads, tracked by Wanted Analytics, 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 than for any other occupation in February 2019. About 2,600 online job ads went out for nurses across the state. The most advertised-for occupations were found in metro and non-metro areas across the state. Registered nurses, retail salespersons, managers of retail sales workers, software developers, and truck drivers topped the list of most advertised occupations in Oregon.

Keep in mind that all occupations are not always represented equally online. Some job ads, like those for construction or agricultural workers, are not as likely to be posted online. Others, like computer occupations, show up more frequently on job boards.

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