The number of new online job ads fell to just above 2 million in October, 36,000 less jobs being offered than in September, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series.

In October there were 1.34 online job ads per 100 persons in the U.S. labor force, compared with 1.36 in September and 1.43 per 100 persons in the labor force in August.

Adjusting job ads for the size of the local labor force, San Francisco, with 2.96 job ads per 100 persons in the labor force, continues to lead the way among the 52 metropolitan areas for which data is published, followed closely by San Diego (2.93) and San Jose (2.7). With the drop in the number of job ads, Boston dipped to 2.61 ads per 100 persons in the labor force. The number of job ads per 100 participants in the labor force is consistently highest on the West and East coast than in the central section of the country.

The number of new job ads declined from September in New England (down 5.6 percent) and the Middle Atlantic (down 5.8 percent) regions. The number of new online job ads rose sharply in the West South Central region (up 19 percent), which includes the states of Texas and Louisiana, which were hard hit by the hurricanes and are in the throes of rebuilding.

“The storms and flooding, and now the rebuilding and dislocations in the Gulf Coast area are taking place in a weakening national labor market. The September and October job growth numbers outside this region are down from their recent trend levels. Consumer confidence was also down in both months,” said Ken Goldstein, labor economist at The Conference Board.

“Nonfarm payroll employment barely moved in October ( up 56,000), substantially below the average of 200,000 jobs added monthly during the prior year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the weak employment growth in October was not attributable to the areas directly affected by the hurricanes. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence survey shows that consumers are continuing to feel less optimistic about the job market, with more consumers saying jobs are ‘hard to get’ and more expressing worries that more jobs won’t be available in the months ahead.”

“A weakening national situation is not good news for the Gulf Coast area,” said Goldstein. “Some workers seem reluctant to move to an area where the labor market was already weak. There are also fears that because a sizable part of the Gulf Coast economy lacks economic diversity and is overly dependent on tourism, overall business may not be robust even after rebuilding efforts are complete.”

The 19 percent increase in new online job postings in the West South Central region included sharp increases in job ads in Houston and Oklahoma City, as well as increases in the other four metropolitan areas (Austin, Dallas, New Orleans, San Antonio) reported separately in this region. In the Middle Atlantic and New England regions, where the number of new first-time job ads fell in October (5.8 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively), the declines were widespread. Virtually all the major metropolitan areas in these regions suffered declines – including dips in new online job offers in Boston, Providence and Hartford, as well as in Philadelphia, Rochester, Pittsburgh and New York.

Latest online job offerings reveal an uneven, mixed trend in most areas of the country. Latest figures in the South Atlantic region, which includes Florida, Delaware and Maryland, show that new job ads were flat (up 1 percent for the month). Online job gains in Tampa, Orlando and Washington, D.C., were offset by declines in Miami, Atlanta and Baltimore. Job ads were up 4.9 percent in the East South Central region (Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky). The Midwest regions of East North Central and West North Central rose 2.5 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, while the Mountain region (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana) was up 5.2 percentand the Pacific region rose 4.3 percent.

Like The Conference Board’s long-running Help-Wanted Advertising Index of print ads (which has been published since 1951), the new online series is not a direct measure of job vacancies. The level of ads in both print and online may change for reasons not related to overall job demand.

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