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Conference Board Analysis

Conference Board Report Paints a Pretty Job-Market Picture

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.

In February, the number of online job ads posted in the United States —
4,423,269 — reached its highest level since April 2007, before the
financial crisis and the recession. February’s number is the
second-highest since the survey began in May 2005.

Just as encouraging is the number of new ads: While the total
number of ads increased by just 39,000, new ads rose to a very healthy
total of 2,748,199, slightly off the previous record, which was achieved
this past December. So 62% of the ads posted in February are new adds
— different from the ads posted in January. Jobs are being filled and
new ads are being posted.

Unemployment, of course, remains high, but things are looking
better. The ratio of job-seekers to online job ads fell below 3 for the
first time since November 2008. That could be better — 2 is considered a
healthy number — but it’s far better than the high of 5.2 reached in
May of 2009, and the trend is in the right direction.

What about science-specific categories? In the category most relevant to most Science
Careers readers — Life, Physical and Social Science — February was a
tepid month: The number of online ads in this category rose by just 100,
an increase of less than 0.2%.

Other science-related categories
did better. The number of online ads in Computer and Mathematical
Science rose by nearly 2% month over month. In Architecture and
Engineering — a category weighed down by a horrific job market for
architects — the number of online ads increased by almost 4%.

We’ve got a ways to go, but we’re getting there, folks.