Some 2.3 million new online job ads were posted in April, down by 138,400, or 6 percent, from March, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series.

Despite the decline, the number of new ads for online jobs in April was the second highest since The Conference Board launched the Help-Wanted OnLine series in April 2005 and well above last year’s level.

In April, there were 1.51 online job ads per 100 persons in the U.S. labor force, compared with 1.6 in March and 1.33 in February.

The Conference Board now has 13 months of data for the Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series. From April 2005 to April 2006, new online job ads increased 26 percent, an increase that is consistent with the rise seen in other labor market indicators during the same period.

“This rate of change is in line with growth rates of other vacancy measures during periods of economic expansion,” said Gad Levanon, economist at The Conference Board. “It is typical for measures related to job openings to show much greater movement, both up and down, than you typically see in the overall employment data. The monthly net change in employment is reflective of the underlying dynamic of the job market, which includes people leaving jobs as well as new hires. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) series, which measures job vacancies at the national level, 2006 monthly figures are running on average about 10-20 percent above the 2005 levels.”

Declines in new online job ads were evident in all nine Census regions in April compared to the March level. The largest declines for the month were in the Middle Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) and the South Atlantic region (Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia), down 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

The smallest declines were in the Mountain region (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming), the West South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas) and the West North Central region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota), down 3 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent, respectively. New England remains the region with the highest number of new online jobs per 100 persons (2.3), and the East South Central with the lowest (0.95).

But the figures for April 2006, compared with April 2005, show that the number of new job ads was up in all nine Census regions, with the largest gains concentrated in the west and southwestern parts of the country. The largest increase was in the West South Central region, up 53 percent, where the volume of ads rose significantly after last season’s hurricanes, reflecting the rebuilding efforts and population movements in the area. Other areas with substantial year-over-year gains in online job ads were the Mountain and Pacific regions (43 percent and 31 percent, respectively). In contrast, online job ads in the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee) rose only 2.7 percent between April 2005 and April 2006, a rate that is substantially lower than the national average of 26 percent over the same period. “The East South Central is also the region with the lowest number of new online jobs per 100 persons,” said Levanon. “So the slow increase in the number of new ads in the region might well reflect the low usage of online job advertising rather than an especially weak economy.”

Adjusting jobs ads for the size of the local labor force, San Diego, with 3.43 job ads per 100 persons in the labor force, leads the way among the 52 metropolitan areas for which data is published separately. Other metropolitan areas with over 3 ads per 100 persons in the labor force include Denver (3.24), San Francisco (3.34) Seattle-Tacoma (3.28), Boston (3.29) and Washington, D.C. (3.06). In April, the Detroit metropolitan area, with less than one online job ad per 100 persons in the labor force (0.77), had the lowest number of ads adjusted for the labor force.

The Conference Board Help-Wanted Online Data Series measures the number of new, first-time online jobs 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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