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Science Careers Blog

April 1, 2010

Job Ads for Scientists, Engineers Increase in March

The number of online opportunities in most science and engineering categories increased in March, while ads seeking health care professionals jumped substantially.  The ratio of job-seekers to online ads for most scientists and engineers in February -- the latest month  data are available -- remained about the same as January, with prospects for engineers and architects becoming more favorable for job-hunters but the outlook for education, training, and library staff getting worse.

The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, provides these data, which are tracked monthly by Science Careers.

Online job ads

In all the categories of scientists and engineers followed in the Science Careers index, the number of online job ads either increased in March or remained about the same as February. Postings for computer scientists and mathematicians increased 2700 in March, its fifth gain in 6 months beginning in October 2009. During that period the number of ads for these professionals has increased by about 100,000 per month, or 25%. Ads for engineers and architects jumped by 2100 in March to more than 137,000, its fourth increase in 5 months. The number of opportunities for life, physical, and social scientists showed little change from February, increasing by 800 to 80,000+.

March was a very good month if you're a health care practitioner or technician. The number of online ads for these positions 88,000, a jump of more than 16%, to 627,300 -- the single largest monthly percentage gain in any category since the Science Careers index began in July 2009. Postings for education, training, and library workers slipped by 1100 from February, its second straight decline.

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Job market competitiveness

The Conference Board computes a job-market competitiveness measure -- a ratio of online ads to the number of unemployed workers in the job market -- for these categories. However, the most up-to-date unemployment data, taken from Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports, are a month older than the numbers of online job ads, so the ratios calculated below are from February 2010, a month earlier than the statistics cited above.

The February ratios for most of the groups showed little change from January. Prospects for architects and engineers improved somewhat in February. This improvement happened more due to the number of unemployed people seeking these jobs shrinking by nearly 50,000. As a result, the ratio of job hunters to online jobs also fell from 1.8 in January to 1.5 in February.

For education, training, and library workers -- a category already plagued by very bad job-ad:to-seeker ratios -- job prospects deteriorated even further in February 2010.  The number of online job ads in that category fell by 3300 as ten times as many -- some 33,000 -- additional unemployed workers joined the competition. All told, the number of people in February looking for a job in education, training, or library work increased from 4.9 to 5.5 per online ad.

Two groups tracked by Science Careers continued to have more job ads in February 2010 than job-hunters: computer scientists and mathematicians, and health care practitioners and technicians. Each of these categories enjoyed about 2.7 job ads for each job seeker. The number of life, physical, and social scientists looking for work in February remained about the same as the number of posted ads.

For the U.S. overall, the number of online job ads decreased slightly in March 2010, by 29,500 to 3,927,000. In February, there were 3.8 unemployed workers for each posted opportunity, about the same as the 3.7 job hunters per ad recorded in January.

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