New online job ads grew 4 percent in May from the previous month, with the largest increases reported in the Pacific and Middle Atlantic regions, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series, released today.

Some 91,800 new online job ads were posted last month to more than 1,200 Internet job boards nationwide, bringing the total number of postings to 2.35 million.

Despite the increase, the number of new ads for online jobs in May was lower than in March, which was the month with the highest count since the Help-Wanted OnLine Data series launched in April 2005.

In May, there were 1.57 online job ads per 100 persons in the U.S. labor force, compared with 1.51 in April 2006 and 1.6 in March. Between May 2005 and May 2006, new online job ads increased 17.4 percent, an increase that is consistent with the rise seen in other labor market indicators during the same period.

“May is typically a month with strong recruitment activity as students are graduating around the country. Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that the count for May was lower than in March,” said Gad Levanon, economist at The Conference Board. “This might point to some continued slowing in hiring that is consistent with weak government measures of employment, hiring and vacancies in April and especially weak employment growth in May. Other labor market indicators, including employment related questions from our Consumer Confidence Index, are also providing signals of a weakening job market in recent months.”

Increases in new online job ads were evident in all nine Census regions in May compared to the April level. The largest increases for the month were in the Pacific region and the Middle Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania), up 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The smallest increases were in the Mountain region (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming), and the South Atlantic region (Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia), up 2 percent each. New England remains the region with the highest number of new online jobs per 100 persons (2.38), and the East South Central with the lowest (0.98).

Looking at May 2006 compared to May 2005, the number of new job ads was up in all Census regions except for the East South Central region. The largest gains are concentrated in the west and southwestern parts of the country. The largest increase was in the West South Central region, up 40 percent over the year. This region includes Texas and Oklahoma, as well as Louisiana, where the job picture is impacted by last year’s severe hurricanes and increased rebuilding activity. Other areas with substantial year-over-year gains in online job ads were the Mountain and Pacific regions (24 percent and 26 percent, respectively).

In contrast, online job ads in the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee) declined by 5.2 percent between May 2005 and May 2006. Year-over-year increases that were well below the national average were reported for the Middle Atlantic region (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), up 6.3 percent, and the East North Central region (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin), up 8.2 percent. “This OnLine Series is still very new and in a developmental stage, making the regional year-over-year changes something that should be interpreted with caution,” Levanon said.

Adjusting job ads for the size of the local labor force, San Diego with 3.66 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 a large number of ads per 100 persons in the labor force were concentrated on the East and West coasts and include San Francisco (3.48) Seattle-Tacoma (3.58), Boston (3.5) and Washington D.C. (3.26). In May, the Detroit metropolitan area, with less than one online job ad per 100 persons in the labor force (0.83), had the lowest number of ads adjusted for the labor force.

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