Science Careers Blog

December 7, 2009

Computer Science, Engineering Job Ads Increase in November

In November 2009, the number of online job ads increased for computer scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, while opportunities for other science and related jobs remained flat or decreased. The cohort of unemployed science and engineering job-hunters generally declined, however, which at least made their task of finding a job no worse than before. The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, provides these data, which are tracked monthly by Science Careers.

Online postings for computer scientists and mathematicians increased by 35,400 in November, an 8.6% jump and one of the bright spots overall in The Conference Board's November report.  Online job ads for engineers and architects inched up by 2600 to 116,100 in November, that category's first monthly gain since July, when Science Careers began tracking these data.

However, the number of opportunities posted for other science and related positions either stayed about the same as October or declined. Online ads for life, physical, and social science jobs fell in November by 1800 to 66,800. Online postings for jobs in the related category of healthcare practitioners and technicians fell by nearly 36,000 in November to 497,400, although the drop was half the size of the October decline. The number of education, training, and library job ads stayed about the same as October, gaining only 700 to 68,500.

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The Conference Board report also includes a ratio of online ads to the number of unemployed workers in the job market for these categories, an indicator of job-market competitiveness. The most current unemployment data, taken from Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports, are a month older than the job ads numbers; so this month the unemployment numbers re from October 2009. Thus the ratios calculated below are from October, a month earlier than the numbers cited above.

Among the science, engineering, and related groups tracked by Science Careers, the number of unemployed job-seekers declined in October, much as we saw in September. (The reports do not give reasons for declining numbers of job-seekers.) For computer scientists and mathematicians, the number of unemployed job-hunters in October dropped by nearly a third to 159,400. Meanwhile, the number online ads increased by 7,500 for these workers, which made this market one of the tightest for any group in the country: more than 2.5 computer scientist or mathematician jobs for each unemployed person looking for work.

The number of unemployed life, physical, and social science job-hunters also declined in October to 61,200, a 14% decline. This drop helped offset a decline the number of online job ads in October for these scientists, which kept the ratio of unemployed job-seekers to online ads about at about 1-to-1. The number of unemployed engineers and architects looking for work also declined by about 20,000 in October, maintaining a less-favorable (for job-seekers) ratio of two job-hunters for each online job ad.

In the related category of healthcare practioners and technicians, the number of unemployed workers looking for a job in October dropped by 35% or nearly 78,000, which more than offset the 71,100 decline in online ads that month. The market for healthcare professionals and technicians remains one of the most favorable for job-hunters, with 3.7 jobs for each unemployed job-seeker. The number of unemployed education, library, and training staff fell by 7100 in October, which more than offset the decline in job ads (4900) that month. However, the job market ratio for this group remains one of the most unfavorable for job hunters, with 6.4 unemployed workers for each online opportunity.

Overall, the number of online job ads in the U.S. increased by 106,500 in November to about 3.4 million. That jump in new opportunities may improve the overall job-market ratio, when that number is calculated early next month. Meanwhile, the latest overall numbers are from October, when there were 4.8 unemployed workers (up from 4.5 in September) for each online job ad.

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