A key indicator that measures job offerings in major U.S. newspapers edged up in October, but businesses aren’t likely to start hiring in droves any time soon, The Conference Board reported today.

“The job market is responding to a cooling in the overall economic environment. This holiday season, deep discounts are being offered for many products, but this will cut into profit margins as labor cost increases edge up,” said Ken Goldstein, labor economist at The Conference Board. “That makes business attitudes no more bullish than consumer attitudes. Business plans have become cautious — on spending, on building inventory, and on hiring going forward.”

The Help-Wanted Advertising Index registered 30 last month, up from 29 in September, but still much lower than the 37 reading recorded in October 2005.

In the last three months, help-wanted advertising declined in eight of the nine U.S. regions. Steepest declines occurred in the East North Central (-15.4 percent), South Atlantic (-13.6 percent) and Mountain (-13.2 percent) regions. The West South Central region improved substantially (19.2 percent).

Although print advertising was generally flat, the rise in online ad volume increased modestly. Total online job ads increased by 198,300 (6 percent) in October to 3.83 million, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series.

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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