Online Job Postings Plummet

Online job listings posted online have dropped by 23% over the past two months according to a report from the Conference Board research group.

The Conference Board, which is best known for calculating the U.S. consumer confidence index, says that the sharp drop in online job postings in December 2008 and January 2009 is an ominous sign for unemployed workers looking for new positions. The number of positions posted online declined by more than 500,000 for each of the past two months as the number of new job listings posted in January totaled 3.35 million.

The report shows that demand for labor has declined significantly across the entire country, as North Dakota and Wyoming were the only states that reported having more new online job postings for the past two months. Michigan was the state with the fewest amount of online vacancies per Internet job seeker, with roughly 6.5 job seekers per available position. Other states with similarly grim online ratios of labor supply to demand include Mississippi (5.04 job seekers per available position), Indiana (4.78 job seekers per position) and Kentucky (4.72 job seekers per available position).

The report also shows that the lack of jobs is not just widespread geographically, as a wide variety of industries have lowered their online demand for labor by more than 30% over the past year. In January 2009, the number of online job postings for management positions declined by 34% from January 2008, while the number of administrative and support positions declined by 36% from January 2008.

The Conference Board tracks online job listings by monitoring the number of new online job listings posted each month on more than 1,200 online job sites. The firm says that its reports on online job searches shouldn''t be interpreted as reports on the state of job availability throughout the country, as it only measures those jobs posted on Internet sites.

The American economy contracted at an annualized rate of 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and major companies such as Sprint and Caterpillar announced job cuts that totaled more than 100,000 over the past week. Looking on the bright side of all the grim economic news, Conference Board senior economist Gad Levanon says that it's good news at least "there are still well over 3 million advertized vacancies" posted on the Internet.

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