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Online Job Postings on the Rise: Help-Wanted Index Offers Cause for Optimism

Pedro Antunes, Director, National and Provincial Forecast, Forecasting and Analysis
September 28, 2009

The rising number of new jobs posted online in August signals that net employment losses may be tapering off, according to the Conference Board’s new Help-Wanted Index. While the index does not yet point to a rebound in hiring, it suggests that the number of job losses is bottoming out. The increased number of postings across the country is another encouraging sign that the worst of the recession has passed for the Canadian economy.

A Leading Indicator

The Help-Wanted Index is based on the seasonally adjusted number of new, unduplicated jobs posted online during the month across 79 Canadian job-posting websites. The Conference Board’s analysis shows that variations in the number of jobs posted online are generally followed by similar variations in employment in the ensuing months, meaning that the index can be used to predict near-term employment trends.

Hitting Bottom?

Online job postings rose by 2.6 percentage points in August compared with the lows reached in July. From August 2008 to July 2009, the index fell nearly 30 per cent as the number of new online job postings plunged. However, in the last few months, the pace of erosion in the index has eased, and the number of new job postings actually rose in two of the last three months. The number of new online job postings—as measured by Wanted Technologies—stood at 241,418 in August, which brought the index to 86.9 (2007=100).

In the last few months, the pace of erosion in the index has eased.

The provincial data in August also offer an encouraging sign that gains are widespread. The index rose in almost all provinces and significant increases in online job postings occurred in Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.

Labour Markets Still Slack

Although net job losses may be tapering off, the Conference Board’s second new measure of labour market activity shows that unemployed people still outnumber job postings by a substantial margin. The Barometer of Labour Market Tightness reveals that in August 2009, the ratio reached 3.6 unemployed persons per job posted. In comparison, the ratio in October 2008 was fewer than two unemployed people for every job posted online.

The Help-Wanted Index and Barometer of Labour Market Tightness are available for Canada, the provinces, and 27 census metropolitan areas. The data will be released monthly.

Pedro Antunes Pedro Antunes
Director, National and Provincial Forecast
Forecasting and Analysis
Help-Wanted Index, September 2009

Help Wanted Index 

Related Publications
Index of Consumer Confidence
Canadian Outlook Economic Forecast: Summer 2009