There’s good news on this, the first day of June. The Conference Board reports this morning that online job postings rose last month by the largest amount in more than two years. It’s the first increase in the Help-Wanted Online Data Series in six months.
In May, there were 250,000 more jobs posted online than in April. The 8 percent increase brought the number of advertised jobs online to 3,367,000. Though modest, the increase dwarfs the 21,000 job posting gain The Conference Board reported in October 2008.
“The May bounce in labor demand is a very welcome sign,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board. “Labor demand typically leads the trend in both employment and unemployment, so positive signals on labor demand are always important.”
While some of The Conference Board’s four U.S. regions showed more improvement than others, all had more online jobs advertised in May than in April. This extended to the state level where 43 states had more jobs.
With every silver lining there comes the dark cloud. Even with the increase, the number of online vacancies is 1,152,000, or 25 percent, below last year’s advertised openings. Overall in the U.S., as of April there were 4.4 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy, according to The Conference Board.
That picture will undoubtedly change Friday when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its monthly employment report for May. Wanted Technologies, which gathers the data for The Conference Board’s Help Wanted Index, predicts the BLS will report the U.S. economy gave up 565,000 jobs in the month, a number that is about 6.6 percent higher than what the company says is the consensus of economists.
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Economic predicting, however, is a dicey business, bearing more than a passing resemblance to crystal-ball gazing. Besides The Conference Board’s upbeat report this morning, other reports from the Institute of Supply Management and the government showed declines in certain watched indicators, but because they were less than expected, stock prices are up by triple digits.
The ISM reported that manufacturing continued to shrink during May, but by at a rate less than in prior months. A construction report from the government showed spending in April rose for the second month in a row. The increase was the largest in eight months. And, though consumer spending fell in April, the decline was less than had been predicted.
Recruiters are also feeling more confident that we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. ExecuNet’s Recruiter Confidence Index, released today, surged 16 points during May. It was the the third increase in as many months. The index surveys executive search recruiters who are part of the ExecuNet network on their expectations for increases in search assignments.
Of the 143 executive recruiters surveyed, 57 percent are confident or very confident the executive employment market will improve in the next six months; 67 percent of the survey respondents expect at least a 10 percent increase in corporate search assignments.