The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL)

This data series provides timely monthly measures of labor demand (advertised vacancies) at the national, regional, state, and metropolitan area levels.

Online Job Ads Decreased 185,700 in February 2018

07 Mar. 2018

Online Job Ads Decreased 185,700 in February 2018

  • February 2018 shows large drop following a flat January
  • Loss widespread across most States and MSAs

Download the complimentary National Historical Table.

Online advertised vacancies decreased 185,700 to 4,717,600 in February, according to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series,released today. The January Supply/Demand rate stands at 1.36 unemployed for each advertised vacancy, with a total of 1.8 million more unemployed workers than the number of advertised vacancies. The number of unemployed was approximately 6.7 million in January.

The Professional occupational category saw changes in Healthcare practitioners and technical (-88.5) and Computer and mathematical science (14.9). The Services/Production occupational category saw losses in Sales (-27.6), Transportation(-24.1), and Office and admin (-20.6).

NOTE: Recently, the HWOL Data Series has experienced a declining trend in the number of online job ads that may not reflect broader trends in the U.S. labor market. Based on changes in how job postings appear online, The Conference Board is reviewing its HWOL methodology to ensure accuracy and alignment with market trends.


  • Among the largest States, 5 increased and 15 decreased
  • Among the 50 States, 7 increased and 43 declined

February Changes for States

In February, online labor demand grew in 7 States, and declined in 43 States. All four regions experienced decreases.

The Northeast decreased 20,000 in February (Table A). New York decreased 2,900 to 295,700. New Jersey decreased 1,300 to 149,500. Massachusetts increased 400 to 140,600. Pennsylvania decreased 9,600 to 204,500. In the smaller States, Connecticut decreased 4,500 to 68,500. New Hampshire decreased 200 to 23,800 and Maine decreased 900 to 20,100. Rhode Island increased 200 to 15,100 and Vermont fell 300 to 11,200 (Table 3).

The West decreased 43,800 in February. California decreased 20,100 to 548,200 and Colorado decreased 6,100 to 121,000. Washington decreased 3,700 to 139,400. Arizona decreased 1,000 to 94,500. Among the smaller States in theWest, Oregon decreased 4,100 to 73,000. Utah decreased 2,600 to 50,400. Nevada decreased 1,300 to 43,700. Idaho fell 400 to 23,800 and New Mexico decreased 1,300 to 24,800. Montana fell 1,000 to 19,900 and Hawaii increased 700 to 22,200.

The Midwest experienced a decrease of 56,700 in February. Illinois fell 6,100 to 183,700 and Michigan decreased 17,500 to 142,200. Missouri decreased 3,500 to 87,400 and Ohio increased 600 to 169,000. Minnesota decreased 6,200 to 130,100 and Wisconsin decreased 8,500 to 102,600. Among the smaller States in the region, Indiana decreased 4,400 to 81,800 and Iowa decreased 3,900 to 58,100. Nebraska fell 1,700 to 29,500 and South Dakota decreased 1,400 to 13,400. Kansas decreased 800 to 36,800.

The South decreased 28,600 in February. Among the larger States in the region, Texas decreased 16,000 to 320,000. Florida decreased 11,500 to 250,100. North Carolina decreased 2,300 to 134,800. Georgia increased 1,800 to 153,700. Virginia grew 1,300 to 147,800. Maryland increased 1,600 to 96,000. Among the smaller States, Tennessee decreased 1,300 to 79,800 and South Carolina decreased 500 to 61,100. Alabama fell 3,900 to 48,500. Kentucky fell 1,600 to 43,900 and Oklahoma decreased 1,900 to 39,600. Louisiana decreased 2,500 to 38,800 and Delaware decreased 200 to 15,900.

Supply/Demand Rates: Help Wanted OnLine calculates Supply/Demand rates for the 50 States (Table 4). The data are for December 2017, the latest month for which State unemployment figures are available.

There were 10 States in which the number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed: Hawaii (0.64), North Dakota (0.67), Minnesota (0.67), Colorado (0.72), New Hampshire (0.75), Iowa (0.77), Nebraska (0.90), Massachusetts (0.90), Wisconsin (0.91), and Vermont (0.95). The States with the highest Supply/Demand rates were Louisiana (2.42), New Mexico (2.27), West Virginia (2.21), and Mississippi (2.11) which had more than two unemployed workers for every job opening.

Please note that the Supply/Demand rate only provides a measure of relative tightness of the individual State labor markets and does not suggest that the occupations of the unemployed directly align with the occupations of the advertised vacancies.


  • In February, nine of the 20 largest metro areas rose and eleven declined
  • Among the 52 metro areas, 13 rose and 39 declined (See pdf Table 5)

Metro Area Changes

In February, labor demand rose in 13 metro areas and declined in 39. The MSAs with the largest changes in each of the regions were: Detroit (-6,500) and Chicago (-3,100) in the Midwest; Los Angeles (4,100) and San Diego  (-3,500) in the West; Washington D.C. (6,600) and Houston (-2,700) in the South; and New York (4,100) and Boston (2,300) in the Northeast (See Table B and Table 5).

The West decreased 43,800 in February. San Francisco decreased 800 to 112,900. Los Angeles decreased 4,100 to 166,600. Denver decreased 2,200 to 72,100 and San Jose grew 1,000 to 59,800. Seattle-Tacoma grew 500 to 93,300 and Phoenix decreased 300 to 69,400. Riverside decreased 1,200 to 32,300. Portland fell 2,200 to 47,000. Sacramento decreased 1,900 at 28,800 and Salt Lake City decreased 300 to 28,000. Honolulu fell 100 at 15,000 and Las Vegas fell 700 to 27,800.

The South decreased 28,600 in February. Houston decreased 2,700 to 69,400 and Austin decreased 1,000 to 40,400. Miami decreased 1,800 to 70,500 and Washington, DC increased 6,600 to 149,500. Dallas fell 2,600 to 105,800 and Atlanta increased 1,600 to 102,200. Orlando decreased 800 to 36,700. Charlotte decreased 200 to 44,100. Tampa fell 1,300 to 42,700 and Baltimore increased 200 to 52,100. San Antonio fell 700 to 29,300. Nashville decreased 1,000 to 33,800. New Orleans fell 1,100 to 14,800 and Birmingham decreased 800 to 13,900. Louisville decreased 700 to 16,400.

The Northeast decreased 20,000 in February. New York increased 4,100 to 300,700 and Pittsburgh decreased 600 to 45,200. Philadelphia increased 400 to 101,300. Boston grew 2,300 to 110,800. Providence increased 200 to 20,700. Buffalo decreased 100 to 18,600. Hartford fell 800 to 27,300 and Rochester decreased 400 to 15,500.

The Midwest experienced a decrease of 56,700 in February. Detroit decreased 6,500 to 68,500 and Chicago decreased 3,100 to 146,500. Minneapolis-St. Paul decreased 3,000 to 92,900 and St. Louis grew 400 to 47,200. Indianapolis fell 1,400 to 32,000. Columbus increased 500 to 38,200 and Cincinnati decreased 100 to 36,100. Kansas City decreased 300 to 37,900 and Cleveland decreased 900 to 31,800. Milwaukee decreased 1,200 to 31,400.

The number of postings does not, however, tell the entire story. A crucial factor is how many unemployed people are seeking jobs and how much competition there is for the jobs that are available. The Conference Board HWOL’s Supply/Demand rate relates the number of unemployed workers to the number of advertised vacancies. Based on December’s data (the latest available unemployment data for metro areas), 13 major metro areas saw more job openings than unemployed workers: San Jose (S/D rate of 0.54), Minneapolis-St. Paul (0.62), Honolulu (0.66), Denver (0.67), San Francisco (0.67), Salt Lake City (0.77), Nashville (0.77), Boston (0.79), Austin (0.80), Washington, DC (0.85), Milwaukee (0.85), Indianapolis (0.93), and Seattle-Tacoma (0.94). (Table 6). Other favorable markets for job-seekers included Kansas City (1.03) and San Diego (1.08).

In contrast, unemployed workers face great competition for each advertised position in Riverside (over 2 unemployed for every opening) as well as Houston (over 2 unemployed for every opening). In 50 of the 52 metro areas, however, there are now fewer than 2 unemployed per advertised opening. (See Table 6 for complete metro area Supply/Demand rates.)


  • In February, three of the largest ten online occupational categories posted increases and seven declined (See pdf Table C)

Occupational Changes for the Month of February

In February, three of the largest ten online occupational categories posted increases and seven declined.

Healthcare practitioners and technical ads decreased 88,500 to 518,200. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.20, i.e. 5 advertised opening per unemployed job-seeker.

Computer and mathematical ads increased 14,900 to 539,400. The supply/demand rate lies at 0.27, i.e. 4 advertised openings per unemployed job-seeker (see Table C and Table 7).

Sales and related ads decreased 27,600 to 449,300. The supply/demand rate lies at 1.52, i.e. over 1 unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening.

Transportation ads decreased 24,100 to 368,600. The supply/demand rate lies at 1.47, i.e. over 1 unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening.

Office and administrative support ads decreased 20,600 to 484,300. The supply/demand rate lies at 1.32, i.e. 1 unemployed job-seekers for every advertised available opening.


HWOL 2017 Annual Revision

With the February 2017 press release, the HWOL program has incorporated its annual revision, which helps ensure the accuracy and consistency of the HWOL time series. This year’s annual revision includes updates to the job board coverage, a revision of the historical data from May 2005 forward, an update of the Metropolitan Statistical area definitions to 2015 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) county-based MSA definitions, and the annual update of the seasonal adjustment factors.

Special Note

Recently, the HWOL Data Series has experienced a declining trend in the number of online job ads that may not reflect broader trends in the U.S. labor market. Based on changes in how job postings appear online, The Conference Board is reviewing its HWOL methodology to ensure accuracy and alignment with market trends.

HWOL available on Haver Analytics

Over 3,000 of the key HWOL press release time series are exclusively available on Haver Analytics. The available time series include the geographic and occupational series for levels and rates for both Total Ads and New Ads. In addition to the seasonally adjusted series, many of the unadjusted series are also available. The geographic detail includes: U.S., 9 Regions, 50 States, 52 MSAs (largest metro areas). The occupational detail includes: U.S. (2-digit SOC), States (1-digit SOC) and MSAs (1-digit SOC).

For more information about the Help Wanted OnLine database delivered via Haver Analytics, please email or navigate to For HWOL data for detailed geographic areas and occupations not in the press release, please contact


The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine®Data Series (HWOL) measures the number of new, first-time online jobs and jobs reposted from the previous month for over 16,000 Internet job boards, corporate boards and smaller job sites that serve niche markets and smaller geographic areas.

Like The Conference Board’s long-running Help Wanted Advertising Index of print ads (which was published for over 55 years and discontinued in July 2008), the HWOL series measures help wanted advertising, i.e. labor demand. The HWOL data series began in May 2005. With the September 2008 release, HWOL began providing seasonally adjusted data for the U.S., the nine Census regions and the 50 States. Seasonally adjusted data for occupations were provided beginning with the May 2009 release, and seasonally adjusted data for the 52 largest metropolitan areas began with the February 2012 release.

People using this data are urged to review the information on the database and methodology available on The Conference Board website and contact us with questions and comments. Background information and technical notes and discussion of revisions to the series are available at:

Additional information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics data used in this release can be found on the BLS website,

The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membershipand research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world’s leading organizationswith the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

WANTED Analytics, a CEB Company

WANTED is a leading supplier of real-time business intelligence solutions for the talent marketplace. Using technology to gather data from corporate career sites and online job boards, WANTED builds products to help our users make better human capital decisions faster. Users of our products include corporate human resources departments, market analysts and employment services firms as well as the federal, state and local labor market analysts that use HWOL. For more information, please visit:


Haver Analytics is the premier provider of time series data for the Global Strategy and Research community. Haver Analytics was founded in 1978 as a consulting firm and today provides the highest quality data and software for industry professionals. Haver provides products and services to clients in financial services, government, academia and various industry groups from consulting to manufacturing. From more information please see:

Release Dates for 2018
April 4, 2018
May 2, 2018
May 30, 2018
July 2, 2017
August 1, 2018
September 5, 2018
October 3, 2018
October 31, 2018
December 5, 2018

The next release is Wednesday, April 4 at 10 AM.

For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232


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Download related PDFs

Press Release
With graph and summary table

National Historical Table (Complimentary)

Technical Notes
Underlying detail, diffusion indexes, components, contributions and graphs