Unemployment numbers may have gone up in May, but at least there's some good news from the job front: Online advertised vacancies were up 148,800 in May to 4,471,200, with thousands of new openings listed in eight occupations including sales, office and administrative support.
According to the latest numbers from The Conference Board's Help Wanted OnLine Data Series, the May increase follows a decline of 124,000 in April and a gain of 198,000 in March.
"Overall, the trend in online advertised vacancies has been positive this year," said June Shelp, vice president at The Conference Board. "While we have now returned to the pre-recession levels of labor demand, the big difference today is the larger number of unemployed workers that are seeking jobs, compared to four years ago."
In April 2011 (when the latest unemployment data was available), there were just over 3 (3.18) unemployed for every advertised vacancy, in contrast to the 1.5 unemployed for every vacancy in April 2007. Nationally, there are 9.4 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.
But labor demand is still uneven across occupations. Although demand in most occupations has picked up, with six of the 22 major occupational groups reaching all-time highs this month, others are slower to rise and the demand for workers in legal occupations has stalled. Specifically:
1. Computer and mathematical science
In May, there were 608,200 advertised vacancies for workers in these occupations, a rise of 25,100, reflecting increased demand for a wide range of skills including network designers, biostatisticians and geographic information system technicians.
2. Building and grounds cleaning, and maintenance
Openings in these fields were up 4,700 to 59,000, with increases for jobs such as building cleaners and landscape workers such as tree trimmers.
3. Sales and related work
Sales openings rose 23,000 in May to 601,700 and reflected, in part, increased demand for demonstrators and product promoters, as well as sales representatives, including insurance and advertising agents. There also was a gain in the relatively small category of securities and commodity traders, which was offset by declines in openings for sales personnel in securities and commodities.
4. Health care support occupations
Openings rose 4,100 to 133,200. This relatively small increase was due to a decline in openings for health care practitioners and technical positions, as well as declines in openings for physical therapist assistants and occupational therapist assistants.
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5. Food preparation and serving
Openings were up 3,000 to 138,300 and reflected increased demand for chefs and head cooks, and food service supervisors/managers. "There was also an increase in demand for baristas," Shelp noted, "but the monthly number of ads is small (less than 2,000)."
6. Office and administrative support
Positions advertised online were up 16,900. General office clerks, receptionists and information clerks were among the occupations that saw increases in advertised vacancies that were partially offset by a drop in demand for billing and accounting clerks, as well as data entry clerks.
7. Management occupations
Online openings were up 24,600 and reflected increased demand in management areas ranging from construction, transportation and distribution managers, to financial and compensation/benefits managers.
8. Business and finance
Openings rose 23,000 and reflected increases in demand for property and casualty claims examiners, labor relations specialists and employment interviewers, as well as smaller categories like energy auditors and sustainability specialists.
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