The Conference Board Help-Wanted Advertising Index, a key measure of job offerings in major newspapers across America, dipped one point in January to 37, and was down from 42 one year ago.

In the last three months, help-wanted advertising increased in five of the nine U.S. regions. Increases occurred in the Middle Atlantic (5.8 percent), South Atlantic (4.2 percent), New England (4 percent), East South Central (2.5 percent) and East North Central (2.2 percent) regions. The largest decline occurred in the Mountain (-23.6 percent) region.

“Economic growth may be picking up in the first quarter but the labor market indicators aren’t showing much improvement through January,” said Ken Goldstein, labor economist at The Conference Board. “The economy only generated about 195,000 new jobs in January. Online ad volume did recover from a seasonal-related downturn but was no higher in January than in August. Print ad volume (which is seasonally adjusted) edged down in January. Initial unemployment claims improved in January but there is a question about how much of a role the warm weather played. The JOLTS data (Job Opening and Labor Turnover) remained relatively flat through December. Finally, consumer sentiment about job prospects over the next six months dipped in January. Thus, not only are the indicators suggesting modest gains in hiring, but consumers also do not think more new jobs will start opening up this spring. All of these data are consistent with readings from the Coincident Economic Index, which reflected moderate economic growth through January.”

Online job ads rebounded sharply in January to 2.16 million new unduplicated online job ads posted for the calendar month, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series. The January total was up 529,000, an increase of one-third from the December low. January’s total was only slightly higher than the August 2005 monthly peak of 2.13 million. In January, there were 1.44 online job ads per 100 persons in the U.S. labor force, up from 1.09 in December and 1.21 in November.

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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