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Demand for Workers Picked Up In Late 2013. Here's Why:

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Demand for workers picked up in the second half of 2013 after flat demand earlier in the year. According to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine®, a total of 352,000 advertised vacancies (59,000 per month) were added in the last six months of 2013; the first half of the year saw fewer than 4,000 jobs added per month. However, the largest gains were in service jobs, which typically are lower-wage jobs.

"The gains in late 2013 are likely to be hires in early 2014," said June Shelp, Vice President of The Conference Board. "Based on the ads, the unemployed with the skills to fill the shortages in many professional occupations (computer workers and medical workers) will find there are 3 or more advertised jobs while those looking for service jobs, (wait staff, sales clerks, and cooks) will be more challenged with two or three unemployed for every job opening."

Biggest gains for Service workers

Late-2013 gains in advertised vacancies were strongest in the services category, rising 234,000, with over half of that gain (+126,000) largely in employers' demand for sales workers and their supervisors (See table).

Increased sales spur the need for truck drivers to deliver the products, which drove demand for transportation and material handling occupations up by 48,300. The second half of 2013 also saw demand for food service workers, like cooks and wait staff, gain 25,000.

Less impressive gains for Professional workers

Professional occupations fared less well in the second half of the year, rising only 117,400 with critical shortages of qualified workers for many occupations. The largest gain, for management positions (+49,100), was largely due to managers for sales staff as well as treasurers and marketing managers. One other strong note was the increased demand for healthcare professionals (+36,600) such as doctors and nurses. This increase was welcome after the decline of 28,400 in the first half of 2013.

More disappointing was the falloff in the demand for construction workers.  Construction, which had strong increases in the previous three years, was flat in 2013 (construction rose 11,500 in the first half of 2013 but then declined 10,500 in the second half of the year).  Since labor demand tends to lead changes in employment, this decline may be an indication that new construction projects might slow in the early months of 2014.

"Setting aside the lower wages (less than $17 per hour for service workers and over $38 per hour in the professional category), the large number of unemployed pursuing service openings continues to challenge job-seekers in those fields," said Shelp. "In many cases the educational gap for job-seekers to pursue the more plentiful opportunities in the professional category is just too great." 

National Labor Demand by Occupation1, Seasonally Adjusted




Change (Thousands)



SOC3

Occupation4

Total Ads2
(Thousands)
Dec-13

Dec-12 to
Jun-13

Jun-13 to
Dec-13

Dec-12 to
Dec-13

Supply/
Demand
Rate5

Av. Wage6


Professional

2,659.7

-49.8

117.4

67.7

0.6

$38.10

11

Management

535.2

-2.2

49.1

46.9

0.9

$52.20

13

Business and financial operations

328.6

-9.9

19.2

9.3

0.7

$33.44

15

Computer and mathematical science

600.2

-20.6

1.2

-19.4

0.3

$38.55

17

Architecture and engineering

179.1

-11.0

7.8

-3.2

0.6

$37.98

19

Life, physical, and social science

55.2

-0.9

4.3

3.5

0.5

$32.87

21

Community and social services

86.3

-2.6

12.8

10.2

1.3

$21.27

23

Legal

36.0

7.7

-3.4

4.3

1.4

$47.39

25

Education, training, and library

122.5

13.7

-6.0

7.7

1.8

$24.62

27

Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

133.6

4.5

-4.3

0.2

1.3

$26.20

29

Healthcare practitioners and technical

583.0

-28.4

36.6

8.2

0.3

$35.35


Service / Production

2,647.9

26.5

234.4

260.9

2.8

$16.55

31

Healthcare support

128.0

4.8

4.0

8.8

2.0

$13.36

33

Protective service

48.2

-0.5

1.2

0.7

2.6

$20.70

35

Food preparation and serving related

259.5

26.8

25.0

51.7

3.0

$10.28

37

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance

85.1

5.9

-7.2

-1.3

6.8

$12.34

39

Personal care and service

86.0

-14.9

4.4

-10.5

5.0

$11.80

41

Sales and related

736.8

-32.8

126.4

93.6

1.5

$18.26

43

Office and administrative support

541.4

-3.6

18.8

15.2

2.4

$16.54

45

Farming, fishing, and forestry

6.5

1.2

-1.3

-0.1

16.4

$11.65

47

Construction and extraction

104.5

11.5

-10.5

0.9

8.5

$21.61

49

Installation, maintenance, and repair

210.7

14.3

17.4

31.7

1.4

$21.09

51

Production

148.6

-4.3

8.0

3.6

4.6

$16.59

53

Transportation and material moving

292.5

18.2

48.3

66.5

2.8

$16.15









1. Approximately 95% of all ads are coded to the 6-digit SOC level.

2. Total ads are all unduplicated ads appearing during the reference period. This figure includes ads from the previous months that have been reposted as well as new ads.

3. Standard Occupational Classification code (SOC)

4. Occupational categories use the 2000 OMB Standard Occupational Classification system (SOC definitions).

5. Supply/Demand rate is the number of Unemployed persons divided by the number of total ads and reflects December 2013 data.

6. Wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program's May 2012 estimates.


Source: The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series

© 2014 The Conference Board. All rights reserved.

Not for redistribution

About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world's leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. www.conference-board.org

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