Gain in Tech Help-Wanted Ads: Good News for Labor Market

After months of stagnation, labor demand appears to be perking up again, according to the latest data from The Conference Board Help Wanted Online report. Led by gains in ads for tech jobs–otherwise known as computer and mathematical occupations–companies have boosted their demand for workers for the past two months, according to The Conference Board.

It’s fascinating to compare the number of want ads to the number of unemployed workers in different occupations. In tech occupations, there are almost 4 want ads for every 1 unemployed worker. That’s good odds! And in fact, the unemployment rate for tech occupations dropped from 5.3% in December 2010 to 3.6% in December 2011.

By contrast, in education, training, and library occupations, the ratio is 1 want ad for every 4 unemployed workers. That’s far less favorable, and labor conditions appear to be getting worse. The unemployment rate for education, training, and library occupations rose from 2.7% in December 2010 to 3.3% in December 2011 (not seasonably adjusted).

When the January employment report comes out tomorrow, I will be looking for signs that the tech sector is continuing to lead the labor market out of its slump.

About Michael Mandel 126 Articles

Michael Mandel was BusinessWeek's chief economist from 1989-2009, where he helped direct the magazine's coverage of the domestic and global economies.

Since joining BusinessWeek in 1989, he has received multiple awards for his work, including being honored as one of the 100 top U.S. business journalists of the 20th century for his coverage of the New Economy. In 2006 Mandel was named "Best Economic Journalist" by the World Leadership Forum.

Mandel is the author of several books, including Rational Exuberance, The Coming Internet Depression, and The High Risk Society.

Mandel holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

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