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.
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.