A key indicator that measures job offerings in major U.S. newspapers dropped for the second straight month in August, as businesses faced lower sales and rising costs, the Conference Board reported Thursday.

The Help-Wanted Advertising Index fell one point to 31 last month, down from 32 in July and 37 one year ago.

In the last three months, help-wanted advertising declined in eight of the nine U.S. regions. Steepest declines occurred in the West North Central (-17.5 percent), Middle Atlantic (-17.3 percent), Mountain (-9.2 percent) and West South Central (-9.2 percent) regions.

“The latest data show that job advertising in print edged lower again in August, while the rise in ad volume online continued to slow,” said Ken Goldstein, labor economist at the Conference Board. “A stronger job market this winter does not seem likely, given the overall economic environment. It’s not just cooler consumer attitudes and spending (despite some relief from high gas prices). Business is bracing for the prospect of less profit growth — because volumes are down and rising costs could start to squeeze margins. That makes business attitudes no more bullish than consumer attitudes.”

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.

In addition, new online job ads increased to 2.57 million in August, according to the Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series. Last month’s supply of online job ads increased by 239,905, or 10 percent, above the previous month and followed a modest decline in July. In August, there were 1.71 online job ads per 100 persons in the U.S. labor force, compared with 1.55 in July and 1.63 in June.

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