Online Job Ads Decreased Over Past Year

Online Job Ads Decreased Over Past Year

by Felicia Bechtoldt

October 10, 2017

Online job ads increased by 2.0 percent in Oregon and 0.1 percent in the U.S. between August and September 2017, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine data series (HWOL). This follows a period of decline caused by Craigslist charging fees for job ads in all areas in the U.S. Aside from Craigslist, the number of online job ads is still lower than the year before. Over the past 12 months, online job ads fell by 8.8 percent in Oregon and 10.1 percent in the U.S. The over-the-year decline doesn’t fully reflect changes in labor demand. Oregon’s job ad decline follows steady job gains during the year and a steady decline in the unemployment rate. Total nonfarm employment grew by 2.4 percent (44,600 jobs) between August 2016 and August 2017 and the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in August 2017.

Labor economists have noticed that price increases for online job ads have distorted the recent HWOL data. Job ads posted through Craigslist are a major source of online job ads picked up by HWOL. In Oregon, job ads from Craigslist represented 45 percent of all job ads collected by HWOL in September 2017. For many years, Craigslist charged a fee for posting job ads only in major cities, including $25 in the Portland metro area. In October 2015, the cost of posting job ads increased in major cities; the cost in Portland rose to $35. The number of HWOL ads, which had been stable in the prior year, started drifting downwards after the price increase.

From December 2015 to December 2016, Craigslist expanded their practice of charging fees to all areas in the United States. The cost for posting job ads varies by area. The minimum cost is $7 per job ad (up from free) in the Eastern Oregon, Coastal Oregon, Roseburg, and Klamath Falls areas. In Bend, Corvallis, Albany, Medford, and Ashland the cost is $10 per ad and in the Salem and Eugene metro areas the cost is $15 per ad. The price increase caused another noticeable drop in the number of HWOL ads during January and February 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 workers, 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.

Most metro areas saw a decrease in the number of online ads between September 2016 and September 2017. The Salem and Eugene metro areas were the only areas to see an increase in online ads over the past year, with an increase of 4.7 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. The Albany metro area had the largest percentage decrease over the year, with online job ads decreasing 23.1 percent. The Portland metro area had the largest level change, dropping by more than 2,400 online job ads.

Nurses Are the Most-Advertised Occupation in Oregon

Employers placed more ads for registered nurses, by far, than any other occupation in September 2017. About 3,300 ads were posted 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, and supervisors and managers of retail sales workers 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. Retail salespersons were one of the top five most-advertised online occupations in all metro areas, except for Corvallis and Grants Pass. Teacher assistants were also in the top five number of online jobs ads in the Salem, Medford, Albany, and Grants Pass metro areas, in addition to being advertised online frequently in non-metro counties.  

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 for a wide range of different occupations.

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