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Michael Price

Online Job Ads Report vs. Bureau of Labor Statistics Report: Half-full, Half-empty

Two reports were released this week offering divergent outlooks for the success of the lethargic economic recovery–one somewhat optimistic and the other rather more pessimistic. 

The good news first: According research organization The Conference Board’s monthly Help Wanted OnLine Data Series, vacancies advertised online rose by 232,000 openings over the month of June, bringing the total number of available jobs posted online to 4,947,100. The spike was bolstered by a late-month surge after sluggish growth earlier in the month, the report notes. Especially bullish was growth in “Computer and mathematical science” job openings, where June saw 42,400 new ads advertised online–approximately a 7% jump. Other science fields saw more limited growth: New ads categorized as “Life, physical and social science” grew from 73,200 jobs posted in May to 73,400 jobs posted in June.
Now the bad news: Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that 80,000 more people became employed in June, the unemployment rate failed to budge, sitting at 8.2%. (Economists estimate that we need about 120,000 new jobs per month to keep up with new workers entering the workforce.) While it’s not possible to separate out science jobs specifically from BLS’s analysis, it’s safe to say that a stagnant unemployment rate is as disappointing to science job-seekers as it is to the rest of the country’s unemployed.
The upshot? If The Conference Board’s numbers are to believed, those seeking computer science careers can breathe just a hair easier. That jibes with other reports seen here and elsewhere that computational science jobs remain in demand in spite of the overall depressed economy. (On the other hand, some people claim that those numbers are being manipulated–that in IT much more than in other fields, every job opening yields several job ads, and that this redundancy isn’t adequately offset in the Conference Board report.) For everyone else, it’s still a waiting game.