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Conference Board Analysis

One of the employment metrics we track at Science Careers is the Conference Board's Help Wanted Online survey, a monthly survey which tracks the number of online job ads. This report measures changes in the number of job ads posted online, breaks them down by category, and compares them to unemployment numbers from the previous month (the latest category-specific data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) to measure the vigor of the current employment market.

First, the big news for scientists: Between May and June, the number of unemployed job-seekers in the Life, Physical, and Social Science category rose by a stunning 11.4%.

In another category of interest to those seeking science employment, over the same period, the number of unemployed job-seekers in Computer and Mathematical Science increased by nearly 4.6%.

What about those online job ads? The overall number was way down in July.

The headline result from the latest employment report from the Conference Board -- 39,900 more online job ads posted in February than the month before -- delivers good news, but it isn't the kind you'd print in letters 4 inches tall. But when you take a closer look, the numbers look really good.

Yes, it looks like the recovery in the job market is finally here. Sure, something could still go wrong -- as it did about this time last year, after a promising January. And yes, it's true that over the last few days some major layoffs were announced at pharmaceutical companies. But according to the Help Wanted Online survey -- conducted by The Conference Board and tracked by Science Careers -- we've nearly bounced back from 2+ awful years.

According to the Conference Board survey, the number of job ads posted online increased by 439,000 in January compared to December 2010. That's an increase of more than 10% and the biggest increase since Science Careers began tracking these numbers in May 2008. It's also the biggest percentage increase since January 2010 -- and, yes, that proved to be a false start, so perhaps I should be a little too cautious in my pronouncements.

But I'll leave caution to June Shelp, the vice president of The Conference Board. "The very strong seasonal gain to start 2011 is welcome news following seven months of essentially flat U.S. labor demand," Shelp said, quoted in a Conference Board press release. "Last year, after a promising start (up about 350,000 in January 2010), labor demand fizzled, and the last half of 2010 was actually flat with no appreciable gains in job demand. Hopefully the January 2011 increase suggests that employers are seeing a pickup in their businesses and labor demand will continue to improve throughout this year."

Let's look at the numbers in more detail. After the downturn that started in April 2007, driven by the financial crisis, the number of online job ads fell by about 1.8 million, hitting a low point 2 years later in April 2009. Since then, 1.44 million ads -- about 80% of what was lost -- have been added back. One more month like January 2010 and we'll have caught up completely, according to the help-wanted-online metric.

The category most relevant to Science Careers readers -- life, physical, and social sciences -- mirrored the market as a whole: The number of online ads rose by 10.6% month over month. In computer and mathematical science, the number of online ads increased by 11.7%. In the category "healthcare practitioners and technical," the increase was nearly 15%. Online job ads in the architecture and engineering category grew by 14.6%. Even the "education, training, and library" category, which had been especially laggardly of late, rose by more than 13%. All these numbers are month over month. 

There's more to report. Unfortunately (for me, not for you) The Conference Board is improving its methodology, which makes comparisons to our older data useless. However, all the data reported above, for January and for December, are based completely on the new methodology so the comparisons should be sound. The Conference Board is releasing the whole time series in revised form, which will allow us to update our older charts to make them consistent with the new methodology. But the revised time series won't be available until early February. That means you will have to wait a while for even more details.

In November, the upward trend continued in the number of online job ads in science-related categories -- and in job ads overall. But in science and in the broader economy, the gains were modest. The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, provides these data, which are tracked monthly by Science Careers.

In the science-related categories we track, the number of ads posted online rose by 1% in November, or 14,400, compared to October. In the economy overall, the number of ads increased by 1.1%, or 47,400 ads. No science-related category did especially well in November, though heath care practitioners and technical added 2.2% to the number of ads posted online. That marks the second straight month of gains for that category after several months of declining prospects. All the other science-related categories were either flat or showed very small changes.

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And in October -- the last month for which detailed unemployment data is available -- the ratio of the number of unemployed people looking for work to the number of online ads changed very little, overall and in science-related categories.

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While this marks yet another flat month for science job opportunities, two things are worth noting. The first is that the ratio of ads to job-seekers -- a measure of job-market competitiveness -- is far lower (0.7) in science-related categories than it is in the economy as a whole (3.4), indicating that jobs in science-related fields are easier to find than jobs generally. 

The second is that the outlook for job seekers is much better than it was a year ago. In November 2010, the number of online ads in science-related categories was 29% higher than it was in November 2009. In the life, physical, and social sciences -- the category most important for most Science Careers readers -- the number of job ads in November 2010 was nearly 40% higher than a year earlier.

October was an excellent month for online job ads in the core scientific categories, suggesting a healthy employment market, according to the Help Wanted Online report from The Conference Board. In the Life, Physical, and Social Sciences category, the number of ads was up 8.6%, or 7,500 ads. That's the biggest month-over-month gain in this category -- and the largest total number of online ads -- since we started tracking in June 2009. From September to October a year ago, the number of ads fell by 2.4%. This October's online ads were up 26,900 ads -- 38.5% -- over last October's 68,600 ads.

Totaling all categories, online ads were up 2.6% (113,700 ads) over September, the biggest monthly jump since April. There were 4,409,797 ads in October, the most in any month since August 2008, before the financial crisis sent the job market into a meltdown.

In all science-related categories, ads were up 4.3% compared to September, the biggest gain since March. The number of ads increased in every science-related category.

A more thorough analysis of the new report from the Conference Board will follow soon.

In August, the number of job ads online in all employment categories increased significantly but modestly, while the number of ads in science-related categories declined, but very slightly.

And  in August -- the last month for which detailed unemployment data is available -- an increase in the number of unemployed people looking for work, coupled with a decline in the number of online job ads, resulted in an uptick in the ratio of job-seekers to online job ads, overall and in all science-related categories combined. That means that, in terms of competitiveness, the job market got slightly worse for job seekers.

This August performance is consistent with a steady upward trend, lasting about 15 months so far, in the strength of the job market for scientists. That, anyway, is our interpretation of the numbers from the Conference Board, released earlier this month.

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

Online job ads

In September, the number of online job ads posted in the science-related categories we track declined by 5300 compared to August, a much better performance than last month's 42,600 decline. In percentage terms, this decline is very small, just 0.4% month over month. 

Taking a longer view reveals progress. In all the categories we track, 219,700 more job ads were posted in August 2010 than were posted a year earlier, an increase of about 18%. Keep reading to learn how the numbers break down by category.

In percentage terms, the best performing category last month was architecture and engineering, which showed a 5.4% increase in the number of posted ads -- 9200 more ads in September than in August. Compared to September 2009, the increase was an impressive 57%.

Also having a good month was computer and mathematical science, which added 15,200 ads, an increase of 2.7%. Year over year, this is a 46% increase in the number of online ads.

It was a down month in the category of greatest interest to most Science Careers readers: life, physical, and social science. Ads in this category declined 5.2%, or 4800. That's 25% higher than a year earlier. 

The category health-care practitioners and technical had its third straight bad month, with online job ads falling 4.8%. This is the only category where the number of ads this month is smaller than it was a year earlier, and the difference is substantial, about 14.6%.  

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Job market competitiveness

The Conference Board computes a job-market competitiveness measure, the ratio of online ads to the number of unemployed workers in the job market for various categories. But because the most up-to-date unemployment data, taken from Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports, are a month older than the numbers for online job ads, the ratios calculated below are from August 2010, so they're a month older than the numbers for online job ads described above. We report the ratio of job seekers to job ads in each category, so a lower number means better opportunity. 

In August, in the number of job ads in all categories dipped, as did the number of ads in science-related categories. The new Conference Board report reveals that these gains were accompanied by an increase in the the number of unemployed job seekers. The result: Combining all science-related categories, the ratio of job seekers to job ads got a little worse, climbing back to 0.7 job seekers per online employment ad after one month at 0.6. In all these categories, there were, in August, approximately 2 job seekers for every 3 ads.

In August, as measured by changes in this ratio, the best performance was in the category Science Careers readers care most about, life, physical, and social science. Here, an increase in the number of job ads (remember, these numbers are from August, not September, when the number of ads declined), coupled to a decline in the number of unemployed people looking for work, resulted in a ratio of 0.7 job seekers per job add, fully two tenths better than July's 0.9.

In contrast, education, training, and library had a very bad month in August thanks to a huge increase -- 32% month over month -- in the number of unemployed people seeking work. This took the ratio of job seekers per ad all the way back up to 4.7, from 3.6 a month before. 

Another category that made a notable move in July is computer and mathematical science, which saw the ratio of job seekers to online ads decline from 0.4 to 0.3. With 3 ads for every job seeker, that starts to look like a pretty tight market; then again, this is the category where job ads are the most likely to be posted online.

There was no change in the ratio of job seekers to job ads in any of the other science-related categories.

Except for education, training, and library (which includes science-related jobs but also jobs with nothing to do with science), the ratio of job-seekers to ads in the science-related categories we track remains far better than the average across the whole economy. In July, the average for these science-related categories was 0.7 job seekers per online job ad. For the economy as a whole, the ratio was 3.5, which is slightly worse than July's 3.4. It may seem like a very tough job market, but over all in these science-related categories the odds of landing a job were nearly 5 times better in August than the odds the average job seeker encountered.

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Jim Austin Tweets as @SciCareerEditor

In August, the number of job ads posted online, overall and in science-related categories, declined a little after healthy gains the previous month. And  in July -- the last month for which detailed unemployment data is available -- the aforementioned healthy increase in job ads, and a modest decline in the number of unemployed job-seekers, indicate a slight improvement in the employment market.

This July performance is consistent with a steady upward trend, lasting about 14 months, in the strength of the job market for scientists. That, anyway, is our interpretation of the numbers from the Conference Board, released earlier this month.

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

Online job ads

In August, the number of online job ads posted in July in the science-related categories we track declined by 42,600, or 2.8%, month over month. 

Taking a longer view reveals progress. In all the categories we track, 220,200 more job ads were posted in August 2010 than were posted a year earlier, an increase of nearly 18%. Keep reading to learn how the numbers break down by category.

In percentage terms, the best performing category last month was the one most relevant to Science Careers readers: life, physical, and social science, which showed a 3.1% increase in the number of posted ads -- 2800 more ads in August in this category than a month before. Compared to August 2009, the increase was 21,800 job ads, or about 30%, indicating that the market for scientists is much stronger than it was a year ago.

The only other category to show a month-over-month increase in the number of job ads posted online was the education, training, and library, which added about 700 ads, or 0.8%. 

The category health-care practitioners and technical had its second straight bad month, falling 5.5% following a 3.1% dip the month before.  

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 Job market competitiveness

The Conference Board computes a job-market competitiveness measure, the ratio of online ads to the number of unemployed workers in the job market for various categories. But because the most up-to-date unemployment data, taken from Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports, are a month older than the numbers for online job ads, the ratios calculated below are from July 2010, so they're a month older than the numbers for online job ads described above. We report the ratio of job seekers to job ads in each category, so a lower number means better opportunities. 

In July, in the number of job ads in all categories dipped, as did the number of ads in science-related categories. But the new Conference Board report reveals that these gains were more than offset by a reduction in the the number of unemployed job-seekers. The result: over all science-related categories, the ratio of job seekers to job ads improved a little declining from 0.7 to 0.6 job seekers per online employment ad, reversing the increase of the previous month. That means that in all these categories there are approximately 2 job seekers for every 3 ads, slightly better than in June.

The best performance was in the category where the job prospects are the worst: education, training, and library.  But things improved dramatically for job seekers in this category, from 4.3 job seekers per ad to 3.6 job-seekers per ad in the course of just one month. This remains by far the worst category we track -- it's the only science-related category in which the ratio of job-seekers to ads is more than 1 -- but it's now only slightly worse than the job market as a whole, in which the ratio of job-seekers to online job ads is 3.4. 

Another category that made a notable move in July is computer and mathematical science, which saw the ratio of job seekers to online ads decline from 0.4 to 0.3. With 3 ads for every job seeker, that starts to look like a pretty tight market; then again, this is the category where job ads are the most likely to be posted online.

All the other categories saw the ratio either increase slightly (life, physical, and social science; architecture and engineering) or decrease slightly (health care practitioners and technical).

Except for education, training, and library (which includes science-related jobs but also jobs with nothing to do with science), the ratio of job-seekers to ads in the science-related categories we track remains far better than the average across the whole economy. In July, the average for these science-related categories was 0.6 job seekers per online job ad. For the economy as a whole, the ratio was 3.4, which is slightly better than June's 3.5. It may seem like a very tough job market, but over all in these science-related categories the odds of landing a job are more than 5 times better than the odds the average job seeker is faced with.

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Jim Austin Tweets as @SciCareerEditor
In July, the number of job ads posted online, overall and in science-related categories, showed healthy growth after 2 flat months. But in June -- the last month for which detailed unemployment data is available -- flat job-ad gains and a substantial increase in the number of unemployed job-seekers result in a mixed picture of the health of the employment market. But overall there's a steady upward trend in the strength of the job market for scientists. That, anyway, is our interpretation of the latest numbers from the Conference Board, released yesterday.

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

Online job ads

The number of online job ads posted in June in the science-related categories we track increased by 28,800, or 2.0%, month over month. That's a bit worse than June but far better than May, when the number of ads in these categories declined by 52,700.

Taking a longer view reveals how far we've come over the last 12 months. In all the categories we track, 331,300 more job ads were posted in July 2010 than a year earlier, an increase of more than 28%. Keep reading to learn how the numbers break down by category.

The strongest science-related category in July was Architecture and Engineering, in which 11,000 new job ads were posted, for a 6.9% month over month increase. Computer and Mathematical Science also did well, adding 31,800 ads, an increase of 5.7%. Education, Training, and Library added 3.4%. Life, Physical, and Social Science added 1,100 job ads, or 1.9%.  

The only category that did badly in July was "health-care practitioners and technical," which fell by 18,400 ads -- 3.1% -- after a strong increase a month earlier.  

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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 various categories. However, the most up-to-date unemployment data, taken from Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports, are a month older than the numbers for online job ads, so the ratios calculated below are for June 2010, while the number of employment ads reported above are for July 2010.

We report the ratio of job seekers to job ads in each category, so a lower number means more opportunity. 

As we reported last month, in May the number of job ads increased by a healthy 2.7%. But the new Conference Board report reveals that in science-related categories, these gains were more than offset by the number of unemployed job-seekers. The result: over all science-related categories, the ratio got a little bit worse, creeping up from 0.6 to 0.7 job seekers per online employment ad.  The best performances were in Biological, Physical, and Social Science, where the ratio of job-seekers to ads improved from 0.8 to 0.7. In Architecture and Engineering, the ratio fell from 0.9 to 0.8. In "Healthcare Practitioners and Technical" the ratio got slightly worse -- from 0.4 up to 0.5. In the two remaining categories the ratio was unchanged: Computer and Mathematical Science (stable at 0.4 job-seekers per ad) and Education, Training, and Library, where the ratio -- always much worse than the other categories we track -- stable at 4.3. (The ratio of job-seekers to job ads for this category has reached as high as 7.0 in recent months, peaking last September.)

Finally, let us note that except for Education, Training, and Library (which includes science-related jobs but others as well), the ratio of job-seekers to ads in all the science-related categories we track is always far better than the average across the whole economy. In June, the average for these science-related categories was 0.7 job-seekers per online job ad. For the economy as a whole, the ratio was 3.5, which is slightly better than May's 3.6.

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Jim Austin Tweets as @SciCareerEditor.

In June, the number of job ads posted in the "healthcare practitioners and technical" category recovered, partially, from a large decline in May -- but all the other science-related careers tracked by Science Careers declined or were flat. That's the conclusion of an analysis of numbers released yesterday by the Conference Board. The latest numbers also show that May, in retrospect, was a pretty good month for the job categories tracked by Science Careers, as declines in the number of job-seeking unemployed meant more advertised jobs for every job-seeker in most of these categories.

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

Online job ads

The number of job ads posted in June in the science-related categories tracked by Science Careers increased by 2.7%, month over month. Taking a longer view reveals how far we've come since last year: In all the categories we track, 300,000 more job ads were posted in June than in June2009, an increase of more than 25%. Keep reading to learn how the numbers break down by category.  

According to the Conference Board data, in June, online employment ads in the "health-care practitioners and technical" category increased by 51,900 -- an impressive 9.6% increase. This fails to offset declines in the number of job ads the previous month, but it's still an impressive number: Fully 27% of May's unemployed job-seekers in this category found jobs in June, the numbers suggest.

The numbers in the other categories aren't as good. The number of job ads in the life, physical, and social sciences category increased by about 500, or about half of one percent of May's total. The number of ads in architecture and engineering was completely flat. Ads in computer and mathematical sciences declined by 12,700 -- about 2.2%. Ads seeking employees in education, training, and library fell by about 900, or about 1.1% of May's total.

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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 for online job ads, so the ratios calculated below are for May 2010, while the number of employment ads reported above are for June.

In May, computer and mathematical science, and health-care practitioners and technical, remained the best sectors to be looking for work, according to this ratio: There are far more job ads than unemployed people looking for work, with 0.4 unemployed job-seekers per job ad in both categories.

The market also looked good for life, physical and life scientists; in this category, in May, there was 0.8 job-seeker for every ad, the same as a month before. The ratio for architects and engineers was just a little worse, at 0.9. But that's a bit improvement from the previous month, when there were 1.2 job seekers for every online ad. That leaves education, training, and library, where, despite dramatic improvement in May, the outlook still looks dismal. The ratio of job-seekers to job ads in this category decreased from 5.1 to 4.3 from April to May. That's the best number we've seen since we started tracking these numbers a year ago. But it's still far worse than any other category we track.

Across all the categories tracked by Science Careers, this ratio improved dramatically in June, thanks to a healthy reduction in the number of unemployed. 955,200 unemployed people sought jobs in these categories in May, compared to 1,085,900 the month before -- a 13.6% reduction in the number of job-seeking unemployed. This brought May's overall ratio of online ads to the number of unemployed workers to about 0.6, down from 0.8 a month earlier.

How does this compare to the labor economy as a whole? Except for one category -- education, training, and library -- job-seekers in science-related categories continue to be in far better shape than the average job-seeker, by this metric. In May there were 3.6 job-seekers overall for each online job ad, suggesting that there is six times as much competition for the average job than there is for jobs in these science-related categories.

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On Twitter: @SciCareerEditor

The number of online job advertisements for science and engineering staff increased in May 2010, but ads for related jobs in health care and education declined, according to data released Wednesday by The Conference Board. In April, the ratio of unemployed scientists and engineers competing for jobs posted online stayed about the same as the previous month or inched lower, continuing trends that began earlier in the year.

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

Online job ads

In May, online employment ads for scientists and engineers increased, led by computer science and mathematics specialists with more than 567,000 openings, a gain of 18,000 over April. For the first time since the Science Careers index began last summer, the number of ads for computer and math workers jumped ahead of ads for health care practitioners and technicians. It was also the single largest number of ads for any occupational category recorded in May by the Conference Board.

Online employment ads for engineers and architects also jumped in May, by nearly 13,000 to just under 160,000, a gain of 8.7% over April. Opportunities for life, physical, and social scientists also rose, but by only 1,600 to more than 87,000, a gain of less than 2%.

Ads for health care practitioner and technician jobs, which often hire people with scientific training, dropped some 13% in May to 540,000, from 623,000 in April. This category was one of the few employment bright spots during the tough economic times this past year. Opportunities for education, training, and library workers, also a category considered alternative employment for people with scientific backgrounds, dropped by 2,300 in May. Since January, ads for education, training, or library staff have either dropped or stayed flat every month.

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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 for online job ads, so the ratios calculated below are for April 2010, while the number of employment ads reported above are for May.

Among scientists and engineers, the ratio of unemployed job seekers to online ads dropped somewhat in April for two of the three occupational categories or remained about the same as March, but still favorable for those looking for work. For life, physical, and social scientists, the job market reached an important milestone in May: for the first time recently there were fewer job seekers than posted ads. For most of 2010, the number of job-seekers in this group about equaled the number of online job ads. In May, that number dropped to 0.8 job hunters per ad.

Engineers and architects also enjoyed an improved job market in April. The combination of 9000 more job ads and 7700 fewer job hunters in April lowered the competitiveness ratio to 1.2 job seekers per ad. That's a big improvement over last Fall when there were about 2 job hunters per online ad for engineers and architects. Computer scientists and mathematicians continued in April to enjoy one of the most favorable job markets, with 0.4 job hunters per online ad, a ratio that has not changed since September 2009.

While the number of online job ads for health care practitioners and technicians has fluctuated over the past 12 months, the ratio of job seekers per online opportunity in this group has stayed remarkably stable, at 0.4 or 0.3 job hunters per employment ad. For education, training, and library staff, the job market (as measured by this ratio) remains dismal, at about 5 unemployed job seekers per online ad -- the only ratio tracked by Science Careers that is higher than the ratio for U.S. workers overall.

For the U.S. in general, the number of online employment ads stayed about the same from April to May, at just over 4 million. In April a slight increase in the number of job seekers to 15,260,000 was more than matched by nearly 223,000 more job ads that month, to tighten somewhat the competitiveness ratio from 3.8 to 3.7 job hunters per online ad.

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Job seekers in scientific and engineering fields found the market for their skills improving over the past 2 months, according to data released today by The Conference Board. Not only did the number of online job ads in April increase for these occupations, but in March the number of unemployed job-seekers in most of these occupations decreased, easing the job hunt for those out of work.

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

Online job ads

In April, for all of the categories of scientists, engineers, and related occupations tracked by the Science Careers index, the number of online opportunities increased, in some cases substantially. This was the first across-the-board increase in posted job ads since January. Ads for computer and mathematical science staff increased the most, up 32,500 in April, a jump of 6.3%. Job ads for engineers and architects registered a solid 6% gain in April, and postings for life, physical, and social scientists followed close behind with a 5.7% increase.

In the related fields of education, training, and library workers, the number of online ads increased by just 1,700 in April, but this gain reversed two straight months of losses. Postings for health care professionals and technicians also recorded a small gain -- 3300, or 0.5% -- much smaller than March's 16% jump.

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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 for online job ads, so the ratios calculated below are a month older than the statistics noted above.

In all but one of the categories tracked by Science Careers, the number of unemployed job seekers decreased in March, making their job-hunting task at least a little easier. Computer science and mathematics job seekers were the exception, increasing by nearly 41,000 to about 224,000. For this group, however, the number of employment ads also increased in March, which kept the market favorable for job hunters, with less than 1 (0.4) job seeker for each job ad, and thus more job ads than job seekers..

In the life, physical, and social sciences, as well as in engineering and architecture, the number of job seekers decreased slightly in March, while their number of online job ads increased. As a result, the ratios of job hunters to job ads improved somewhat. Life, physical, and social science job seekers about equaled their March number of employment ads. In engineering and architecture, there were more (1.4) unemployed job hunters per job ad, but was still their most favorable ratio recorded by Science Careers since this index began last May.

In the related category of education, training, and library workers, the number of unemployed job hunters dropped substantially in March, decreasing by 43,500 to just over 82,000. This drop in job seekers more than offset a small drop in online job ads in March, which improved the ratio to 5 job-hunters for each posting. Even with this improvement, their ratio is the gloomiest tracked by Science Careers and the only one higher than the overall national average of 3.8 unemployed workers per job ad.

The most favorable job market among all of the categories followed by Science Careers is the one for health care professional practitioners and technicians, one of the few groups with more job ads than job hunters. For this group in March, not only did the number of online job ads increase by 16%, but the number of unemployed job hunters decreased by 21% or 43,000. As a result, the job market ratio for these workers improved slightly from 0.4 to 0.3 job seekers for each online posting.

The more favorable job market for science and engineering staff reflected improvements in the overall U.S. job market. The number of online employment ads increased in April by nearly 223,000, the first monthly increase since January. The number of unemployed job seekers rose only slightly overall (134,000) in March, which kept the job market ratio at 3.8 job hunters for each online opportunity.

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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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Ads posted online for science, engineering, and related workers stayed about the same or declined in most categories during February 2010. But in one category of interest to Science Careers readers, the job market improved markedly for job seekers.

In January -- the latest month for which this information is available -- the ratio of unemployed workers seeking science and engineering jobs tightened slightly, reflecting a somewhat improved market for job hunters. The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, provides these data, which are tracked monthly by Science Careers.

Online job ads

For most categories of science and engineering employment, the number of online job openings in February ended a string of consecutive gains in the previous 2-4 months. But opportunities for life, physical, and social scientists advertised online increased by about 5000 to nearly 80,000, the largest monthly gain recorded for this group since the Science Careers index began in July 2009. In contrast, ads for computer and mathematical science jobs declined in February by 6500, to 510,000 -- still well above the 474,000 recorded in December 2009. Architecture and engineering jobs posted online in February stayed about the same as January, at 136,000.  

In the related categories of health professionals and education staff, however, the numbers of online job ads declined, for one group markedly. Online ads for health care practitioners and technical workers declined by more than 30,000 to 537,000 in February, a one-month drop of 5% that more than reversed the gains for that group in January. During most of 2009, opportunities for health professionals had been one of the bright spots in a generally dismal employment picture, but the number of ads in this category have not exceeded the 600,000 recorded in September 2009.

Online jobs for education, library, and training staff declined by 3100 in February, to 83,000, ending four-month string of gains but remaining well above the 75,000 registered in December 2009.

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Job market competitiveness

The Conference Board provides a gauge of job-market competitiveness -- 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 job-ad numbers, so the ratios calculated below are from January 2010, a month earlier than the numbers cited above.

The January Conference Board ratios showed considerable improvement for life, physical, and social scientists. In January 2010, the number of unemployed job seekers in this group dropped by more than 27%, to about 73,000, while their number of online ads increased by 3700 to nearly 75,000. As a result, the number of job seekers was about equal to the number of job ads in January -- a decline in the job-market ratio from 1.4 in December 2009 to about 1.0 in January.

Indeed, in most categories during January 2010 the number of new online employment ads generally exceeded the number of newly unemployed job hunters, resulting in a somewhat improved market for people seeking those jobs. The main beneficiaries of this improved job market were education, training, and library staff, where online job ads increased by nearly 11,000 and the number of unemployed job hunters dropped under 425,000. The result: In this category the number of job seekers per online ad dropped from nearly six in December to about five in January. That's still a very tough market, the worst in the Science Careers index and the only group tracked by Science Careers where the ratio is worse than the overall U.S. job market.  

Among the other three categories tracked by Science Careers, the ratios of job seekers to job ads stayed about the same in January 2010 as in December 2009. For computer and mathematical scientists, and health care practitioners and technical workers, this meant there were more job ads than unemployed workers seeking those jobs, at least through January. Architects and engineers continued facing a more competitive job market that month, with about two job hunters for each online ad.

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For the U.S. overall in February, the number of online job ads declined by 67,000 to just under 4 million, ending three straight monthly gains but remaining well above the 3.6 million level registered in December 2009. In January 2010 the number of job ads overall increased by nearly 382,000 while the number of unemployed job seekers declined to under 15 million for the first time since August 2009. These changes resulted in a ratio of 3.7 unemployed job hunters per online job ad, an improvement from the ratio of 4.2 recorded in December 2009.

The number of online job ads for science, engineering, and related occupations continued to climb in January 2010. But as reported last month, plenty of unemployed job seekers are returning to the job market to keep the hunt for these jobs at least as competitive as before. The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, provides these data, which are tracked monthly by Science Careers.

Online job ads

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Jobs in computer science and mathematics continue to lead the other groups in the numbers of new positions posted online. In January, more than 40,000 new ads for these jobs were recorded, a 9% increase over December and the biggest monthly gain since Science Careers began tracking these data in July 2009. Online ads for engineers and architects increased by more than 10,000 or 8% in January, the third monthly gain in a row and also the largest increase in new ads since July 2009. Likewise, posted ads for the life, physical, and social sciences increased by nearly 4,000, a 5% jump and the second consecutive monthly gain for this group.

Ads for jobs related to science and engineering work also showed healthy increases in January. Postings for health care practitioners and technical positions, one of the few employment bright spots during this recession, increased by more than 24,000, a 5% jump. Online ads for education, training, and library workers at all levels increased by nearly 11,000 in January, an increase of 14%, its largest monthly gain since the Science Careers tracking began in July.

Job market competitiveness

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The Conference Board provides a gauge of job-market competitiveness -- 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 job-ad numbers, so the ratios calculated below are from December 2009, a month earlier than the numbers cited above.

During December, the number of unemployed job-seekers added to the labor market in three of the five science, engineering and related categories increased to match the number of increased job ads that month, keeping the the ratio of job hunters to ads at about the same level as November. The number of unemployed engineers and architects looking for work in December remained at about double the number of online ads for these positions. However, two categories continued to enjoy the enviable condition of having more job ads than unemployed workers: There were 2.8 computer science and mathematics ads, and 3.3 health care practitioner and technician ads, for each unemployed job-hunter in those categories, about the same as the previous month.

For life, physical, and social science job seekers, their job market became somewhat more competitive in December. That month saw more than 20,000 life, physical, and social science job hunters added to the market, while only 4,500 more job adds were posted. This imbalance increased the ratio of job-hunters to posted jobs from 1.2 in November to 1.4 in December. Earlier in 2009, there were about equal numbers of job-seekers and online job ads in this category, but the trend the last two months of 2009 was towards more candidates rather than more jobs.

Among education, training, and library workers, the trend is moving in the favor of job-hunters, but the market for these staff remains bleak. In September there were seven job hunters for each education, training, and library job ad. By December, that ratio had dropped below six (5.8) unemployed workers for each job ad. Despite the encouraging trend, this is the only category of the five tracked by Science Careers with a job market ratio greater than the U.S. as a whole.

For the U.S. overall, the number of posted job ads jumped nearly 382,000 in January, a 10.5% gain. In December, the number of online job ads outpaced the number of unemployed workers looking for jobs, which brought down the job-seeker to job ratio to 4.2 from 4.5 in November.


The number of online employment ads for scientists, engineers, and related occupations all increased in December. The numbers of unemployed job-hunters in these occupations also increased, keeping the ratios -- and, hence, the ease or difficulty of finding a job -- about the same as before. The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, provides these data, which are tracked monthly by Science Careers.

Ads for computer and mathematical science jobs climbed by 23,300 in December, the third straight monthly gain. Postings for life, physical, and social scientists increased by 4300 in December, reversing an extended decline that began in September. The number of job ads for engineers and architects also rose, by 9200 -- the second consecutive monthly increase for engineers and architects; before November, these occupations suffered 4 straight months of declines.

Ads for healthcare practitioners and technicians, positions sometimes sought by scientists and engineers, increased by 45,100 in December to more than 541,000. This 9% increase in opportunities reversed declines in October and November. Postings for education, training, and library workers at all levels -- another source of employment for some scientists -- also rose in December, by 8.7%, to 75,000.

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The Conference Board report computes 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-ad numbers, so the ratios calculated below are from November, a month earlier than the numbers cited above.

In all of the occupational categories tracked by Science Careers, the number of unemployed job-seekers increased in November, reversing two months of declines for some groups. As a result, the ease or difficulty of finding a job stayed at about the same level as in October. The Conference Board's report does not give reasons for entering or leaving the cohort of job hunters.  

Candidates for computer and mathematical science jobs had one of the better job-search environments in November, where for each unemployed job seeker employers posted 2.5 online ads, about the same ratio as in October. Many other job seekers had a tougher time in November: Candidates looking for life, physical, and social science jobs found a declining number of job ads at the same time as nearly 81,000 new job hunters entered the market. As a result, the ratio of job-seekers to ads rose to 1.2:1.

Engineers and architects looking for work also ran into nearly 7000 new job-seekers in November, but for this group at least the number of job ads increased a little (about 3500), which kept the ratio of job hunters to posted ads at about 2 to 1. Education, training, and library job seekers have one of the most difficult job-hunting situations currently, with about 6.5 unemployed workers for each advertised position. A modest increase of 1200 job ads in November didn't provide much relief.

Perhaps the best job-hunting environment in the country for any occupational group is for healthcare practitioners and technicians, where in November each unemployed job seeker could choose from nearly 3 posted positions, on average. This 1-to-3 ratio continued in November despite a decline in ads of 37,000 for these positions.

For the country as a whole, the number of online employment ads in December increased by 255,400, more than double the number of new job ads recorded in November. So, the total number of job hunters remained about the same in November as it was in the previous month, resulting in a slight decrease in the ratio of job hunters to posted ads, from 4.8 in October to 4.5 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.

The number of online employment ads for scientists and engineers continued to decline in October, reflecting overall weakness in the U.S. job market. In some cases these losses were offset by declining numbers of job-seekers, according to a monthly index of online opportunities compiled (with seasonal adjustments) by The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, and tracked by Science Careers.

The only good news in an otherwise grim report was the number of online ads for computer scientists and mathematicians, which increased to more than 409,000 in October, up 7200 from September. Ads for life, physical, and social scientists dropped by 1100 in October to 69,200, and opportunities for engineers and architects continued the monthly declines that started in June, dropping another 900 postings to 113,300.

In the related career category of health care practitioners and technicians, the decline in online employment ads from September to October was particularly steep, dropping by almost 69,000 -- more than 11% -- to 535,600. This category had been one of the bright spots in the overall U.S. jobs picture, increasing by 86,000, or 16.5%, during August and September.

In another related occupation group -- education, training, and library workers -- the news is a little better. The number of employment ads increased by 4400 in October, a gain over September of nearly 7%. The number of ads in this category had dropped by about this same number in both August and September.

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The 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, derived from Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports, are a month older than the job ads numbers, in this case for September 2009. So the ratios calculated below are from September, a month earlier than the numbers cited above.

Among the main science and engineering groups tracked by Science Careers, the number of unemployed job-seekers declined in September, which in some cases eased the tightness of the job market in those categories. (The reports do not give reasons for declining numbers of job-seekers.) Among life, physical, and social scientists, the number of job-seekers dropped from 83,100 in August to 71,500 in September, a decline of 14%. Meanwhile, the number of online ads in this category declined slightly from August, so the job market for these scientists improved a little, according to this measure, to the point where the number of job seekers approximately equaled the number of posted opportunities.

Something similar happened among engineers and architects. The number of job-seekers in this group declined by more than 11% in September to 233,200. So even though the number of job ads declined by 3300, the job market ratio improved slightly from the perspective of those looking for jobs; in September there were 2 engineers or architects for each posted job, slightly better than in August.

Among computer scientists and mathematicians, the number of unemployed job seekers hardly changed in September. Even though the number of online employment ads declined by 4200, the number of posted jobs (402,000) comfortably exceeded the number job-hunters (236,100).

In the related career category of health care practitioners and technicians, both the number of job-seekers and the number of online ads increased in September. The result was 2.73 posted jobs for each job seeker. That ratio will likely change for October, given last month's sharp drop in the number of posted ads. 

Among education, training, and library workers, the job market ratio for September ballooned to 7 job seekers for each posted opportunity, as the number of job ads in September declined by 4200 compared to August and the number of job seekers jumped 29% to more than 442,000.

By comparison, the job-market ratio for the U.S. overall inched up in September to 4.5 job-hunters for each posted job ad. In October,  the total number of online ads posted dropped by 83,200 to less than 3.3 million. So don't look for much overall improvement in the October ratios.

For the past few months, Science Careers has tracked the number of online jobs advertised for scientists and engineers, as reported by The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute. In September, the number of ads for scientists and engineers declined, compared to August, with only the related field of medical practitioners and technicians recording an increase.

Among scientists, opportunities for life, physical, and social scientists advertised online declined only slightly from their August levels, from almost 71,000 in August to 70,300 in September, less than a 1% drop. The number of ads for those scientists had risen in both July and August compared to the previous month.

Online opportunities for computer scientists and mathematicians also dropped less than 1% to about 402,000 in September, but that still represents almost 4,000 fewer ads than in August. As with the life, physical, and social scientists, the number of ads for computer and math scientists rose in July and August.

The number of online ads for engineers and architects took a bigger hit in September. Ads for these jobs declined by 3,300 to about 114,000 from August to September, a decline of 2.8%. Unlike ads for scientists, opportunities in this category declined in July and August, compared to the previous month.

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In the related field of education workers -- including training and library staff at all levels -- online ads declined by more than 4,000 in September to about 63,000, a drop of more than 6%. The number of ads for education workers declined by about the same amount in August.

The Conference Board's report does not comment on seasonal variations within occupational categories, so we do not know if these declines normally happen at this time of year in these groups.

The only bright spot in The Conference Board report was in the number of online ads for the related category of health care practitioners and technicians (health care support staff are reported separately). The number of employment ads for these workers increased by 28,000 to almost 606,000 in September, a 4.8% increase. This increase was still only about half of the nearly 60,000 more job ads for this group in August.

The Conference Board computes a ratio of online ads to the number of unemployed workers in the job market for these categories, which offers an indicator of job market competitiveness for employers and job-seekers. A ratio of less than 1.0 means there are more jobs posted online than there are unemployed workers seeking those jobs. When the ratio exceeds 1.0, there are more job seekers than online opportunities. However, this ratio is computed for the previous month, since there's a one-month lag in capturing data on unemployed workers.

In August, people seeking work as health care practitioners and technicians had the most favorable job market with a ratio of 0.3, which means there were about 3 opportunities advertised for each job-seeker. Computer scientists and mathematicians also had more posted opportunities than job-hunters in August, with 1.7 jobs for each of the nearly 236,000 in this group seeking work.

Other scientific and engineering job seekers faced a more difficult market. People seeking jobs as life, physical, and social scientists were somewhat more numerous (83,100) than the number of online jobs posted (70,900). For architects and engineers, the number of job-hunters exceeded posted jobs by more than 2-to-1.  And for education, training, and library workers, the environment was downright dismal, with about 5 job seekers for each opportunity posted online.

While it is little consolation to education workers, their plight is not that much worse than the job market overall. Nationwide, the number of online opportunities declined by nearly 102,000 in September, with 4.3 unemployed job seekers for each advertised job in August.

UPDATE, 16 October 2009. Frank Tortorici and June Shelp of The Conference Board kindly tell us that their data that we report on are indeed seasonally adjusted. Here's what they say ...

"The occupational data that is provided in the [Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series] monthly release is seasonally adjusted.  In other words, for occupational categories like life, physical, and social scientists where the academic calendar is important the seasonally adjusted data would adjust for the seasonal swings that are typical for that occupation.  Similarly, the unemployment data for the occupations is also the seasonally adjusted data.  Seasonally adjusted data is typically the data that if reported in the major federal data series for employment and unemployment as it provides the clearest picture of month-to-month changes."



One job market indicator we follow on Science Careers is the number of online job ads, which is tracked monthly by the Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute. In August, the number of online advertisements for scientists posted healthy gains over July, although the number of employment ads for engineers remained flat.

Judging by these numbers, the job outlook for scientists appears to be improving.  In August the number of help-wanted ads for computer scientists and mathematicians rose by 9,000 to to almost 407,000. The number of ads for life, physical, and social scientists rose by 4,200 in August, to about 71,000--a healthy 6% increase. In both cases, the number of new ads were greater in August than July.

Keep in mind that these could reflect regular seasonal changes, since academic jobs in particular tend to have regular hiring seasons. We're not expert enough yet to compensate for seasonal differences. We'll see how the trends play out over time.

For engineers and architects, however, the outlook is not as rosy. The number of employment ads for these jobs remained at 117,700 in August, the same as in July. This number is still below the 121,700 jobs for engineers and architects posted online in June.

New online ads for health care professionals and technicians (on the one hand) and education workers (on the other) show sharply contrasting trends. Employment ads for health care practitioners and technicians rose by nearly 53,000 in August to more than 574,000, the largest jump for any occupational group this month. This increase reversed a decline of nearly 4,000 ads from June to July. The number of posted education, training, and library jobs fell by 3,300 in August, to 68,000, which almost wiped out a 3,700 increase in job ads in July.

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The Conference Board also calculates a supply/demand rate as an indicator of job-market strength, comparing the number of job seekers, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to the number of online employment ads.  The higher the rate, the more job seekers per ad and the worse the market is for job hunters. There's a one-month delay in reporting these data. In July, the number of job seekers increased in most categories, which indicates finding a job in July remained a challenge, even in fields in which job ads increased.

By this measure, computer scientists, mathematicians, and health care practitioners/technicians had among best job markets in July. In both cases, they had rates of less than 1, which means the number of online ads exceeded the number of job seekers. Life, physical, and social scientists had about a 1-to-1 ratio of job ads to job seekers in July. Other career groups, however, faced tougher job markets. For engineers and architects, the number of job seekers in July exceeded job ads by a 2-to-1 margin. Education, training, and library workers faced even worse prospects: a nearly 5-to-1 ratio of job seekers per online ad.

Overall, the number of online ads increased nationwide to nearly 3.5 million in August, an increase of more than 169,000 compared to July which barely registered an increase over the previous month. In July, however there were overall 4.4 job seekers per online employment ad, about the same as the 4.5 per ad recorded in June.

Keeping track of current trends in job markets is a difficult business. One approach that's more promising than most is tracking online job ads. Long-term trends in technology (e.g., the rise of social media and the decline of static ads) may skew the results over time, but month-to-month trends are likely to be meaningful.

The Conference Board tracks these statistics, and their index of online help-wanted ads for July had a little good news for scientists and health care professionals, but bad news for engineers and architects.

The number of online employment ads for life scientists, physical scientists, and social scientists increased by 2,300 to nearly 67,000 in July 2009 compared to June--a healthy 3.5% increase. Ads for computer scientists and mathematicians increased slightly, with about 1,100 more jobs listed in July 2009, to 397,800. In both of these categories, the numbers of online help-wanted ads exceeded the number of job seekers reported for June by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for that month. That's the good news.

The bad news is for engineers and architects, who face much bleaker prospects, according to the Conference Board. The number of online employment ads for engineers and architects declined by 4,000 in July, to 117,700. Worse, in June there were about about 1.6 job-hunters for every online ad.

Related categories had mixed results. The number of online education, training, and library employment ads increased by 3,700 in July, to 71,300, but it's still an extremely tight market: There were still 4.7 job seekers for every online ad in this grouping. In contrast, there were more than 2 ads for each job hunter in the health professions and practitioners group--but the trend is in the wrong direction: In July, the number of ads in this category dropped by nearly 4,000 compared to June.

The Conference Board is a private business and economic research institute. Its index of online help-wanted ads is published monthly.

The number of online job ads increased in May compared to April, according to the Conference Board, with among the largest increases noted for jobs in computer and mathematical science. Engineering and architecture job ads, and ads for jobs in other fields of science, also increased in May.

The Conference Board is an independent business-research association that publishes a number of economic and employment indexes, including surveys of help-wanted ads, which offer indicators of the nation's employment picture. It's count of May 2009 online employment ads increased by 250,000 over April, the first month-to-month increase since October 2008's modest (21,000) rise, and the largest such gain since October 2006. Before too many celebrations begin, however, the Conference Board notes that May's numbers are still 25% below last year at this time.

Among the occupational categories making the largest gains was computer and mathematical science, which rose some 35,000 in May, to 417,000. Only management and office/administrative job ads had bigger increases; each rose more than 40,000. After managers and lawyers, computer and mathematical science jobs also pulled the the highest hourly pay rate, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data cited in the report: $35.82 per hour.

Online architecture and engineering job ads rose by 6,800 to 131,300 in May, while the total of life, physical, and social science ads increased by 3,400 to 67,500. According to the BLS data in the report, these groups are still among the better paid workers. Architects and engineers earn on average $34.34 an hour, which scientists get paid $30.90 an hour.

Prospects for your non-science and engineering neighbors may be getting better as well. The Conference Board reports more online job ads in all occupational categories in May.