The Conference Board Help-Wanted Advertising Index, a key measure of job offerings in major newspapers across America, remained unchanged in December at 39.

In the last three months, help-wanted advertising increased in four of the nine U.S. regions. Increases occurred in the East North Central (14.5 percent), West South Central (13.3 percent), West North Central (8.3 percent) and Pacific (0.8 percent) regions. Largest declines occurred in the East South Central (-4.1 percent) and South Atlantic (-3.1 percent) regions.

“The latest readings on print want-ad volume suggest that job growth won’t reach the 200,000-a-month pace for at least the next few months. The number of new jobs offered online was no stronger than job offers in major newspapers through the end of December,” said Ken Goldstein, labor economist at The Conference Board. “Also, initial unemployment claims turned flat through December. And latest JOLTS data (Job Opening and Labor Turnover) exhibit this same flat trend. If that’s not enough, consumer confidence data about job prospects over the next six months suggest that the economy is not going to build momentum anytime soon.”

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.

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

The Conference Board surveys help-wanted print advertising volume in 51 major newspapers across the country every month. Because ad volume has proven to be sensitive to labor market conditions, this measure provides a gauge of change in the local, regional and national supply of jobs.

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