Some 1.63 million new online job ads were offered in December, a decline of 187,000, or 10.3 percent, from November, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series. The December level was well below the August 2005 peak of 2.13 million new online job ads.

Ken Goldstein, labor economist at The Conference Board, noted that “a large portion of the declines in ads in November and December are seasonal declines as businesses cut back recruitment ads during the holiday season. The December data are in-line with what we are seeing in other data. The overall picture for the 2005 labor market shows levels holding steady but less robust than in early 2005. The Conference Board’s latest CEO Confidence Survey tells a similar story. While CEO confidence is up in the fourth quarter, it remains below early 2005 levels.”

In December there were 1.09 online job ads per 100 persons in the U.S. labor force, up from 1.21 in November, and 1.34 in October.

All 52 metropolitan areas for which data are available separately reported declines in new online job ads for the month of December. The monthly volume of new online job ads dipped in New Orleans for the first time since the August hurricane, down from 8,500 new ads in November to 7,500 in December.

“In the aftermath of the hurricane we saw some interesting patterns in the Gulf Coast region,” said Goldstein. “The online ad volume jumped substantially immediately after the hurricane with ads targeted to New Orleans workers for jobs outside the region. This was followed by an increased volume in ads for workers to handle the clean-up and reconstruction in the region. New ad volume in New Orleans is running about 70 percent above the monthly volume before the hurricanes.”

Adjusting job ads for the size of the local labor force, San Diego with 2.46 job ads per 100 persons in the labor force leads the way among the 52 metropolitan areas for which data is published, followed closely by San Francisco (2.39), Denver (2.37), and San Jose (2.35). The lowest number of online job ads per 100 persons in the labor force in December was in Detroit (0.55), followed by Rochester, N.Y. (0.66).

New online ad volume declined in the nine U.S. census regions in December, reflecting in large part seasonal declines. The sharpest declines were in the West North Central region (down 17.5 percent), which includes Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas, and the East South Central region (16.9 percent), including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. The East North Central region (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) dropped 13.8 percent, while New England declined 13.5 percent. Regions declining less than the national average include the Mountain region and West South Central, both declining 9.8 percent. The South Atlantic region declined 8.6 percent while the Pacific region, which includes Alaska and Hawaii in addition to California, Oregon and Washington, had the smallest drop (8 percent).

The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series measures the number of new, first-time online job ads posted on more than 1,200 major Internet job boards and smaller job boards that serve niche markets and smaller geographic areas.

***

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