Online job ads signal strengthening economy

Ajsa Suljic is Employment Security’s regional labor economist for Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Garfield, Franklin and Walla Walla counties.

The number of possible job opportunities for Washington’s available workforce was about 130,200 in October 2014. The number of those jobs posted online increased by 6,600 from the same time last year.

Online job ads are best used to look at the level of demand for particular occupations, industries, skills and areas. That’s significant not only to businesses and job seekers who can guage the level of competition for jobs, but also to educational institutions who can gear their training programs toward trends in the labor market, helping bridge the gap between employers and job seekers.

Ups and downs of online postings
Online job ads had decreased significantly during great recession both statewide (26.2 percent) and nationally (27.5 percent).  Washington state started recovering job ads in January 2010, and grew by 1.6 percent a month through September 2013.  National job ads started recovering around March 2009 and have grown by 1.1 percent a month through March 2013.  Since then, online job ad growth has slowed nationally to an average of around 0.3 percent. And following the national trend, state job ads slowed to 0.8 percent monthly growth. National and state job ads are growing bit more slowly now, but both are showing more stability and labor market balance.

Graph shows the number of online job ads from 2006 to 2014.

Graph shows the number of online job ads. Click image to enlarge.


Most ads are for Technology & Healthcare

By October 2014, most of the job ads consisted of computer and healthcare related occupations. Registered Nurses and Applications Software Developers topped the list with 6,600 and 6,200 job openings statewide, respectively.

List of the top 25 occupations in Washington. Click image to enlarge.

List of the top 25 occupations in Washington. Click image to enlarge.


Ads follow population centers

Majority of all job ads are located in western parts of the state. King County Workforce Development Area (WDA) represents over 52 percent of all job ads in the state, with closest being Pierce County WDA at 7.7 percent.

Graph of help wanted ads by location. Click image to enlarge.

Graph of help wanted ads by location. Click image to enlarge.


Who’s tracking the numbers and what they mean

These reports are based on the Help Wanted OnLine® data series from The Conference Board, which provide a measure of real-time labor demand gathered from online job ads, and on the real-time database of job announcements from Wanted Analytics, which could include significant duplications.

The HWOL data on online job ads is not a direct measure of job vacancies in the state or local areas for reasons not related to overall state and local business job vacancies or demand.  The HWOL data works better as an indicator of employers’ demand for specific workforce rather than as an estimator of the number of job vacancies.

The Labor Market and Performance Analysis office of Employment Security Department provides monthly employer demand reports for top 25 occupations, hard skills, certifications and employers for the state and counties. For occupations, we provide the most recent, single month of information based on a consistent time series from the Help Wanted OnLine® data (HWOL).

For employers, we provide the most recent four months of data from the HWOL data series compared to the previous year. For certifications and hard skills, we provide the most recent four months of information from Wanted Analytics.

Learn more on our labor-market website

If you would like to learn more about online job ads for the state and by county, visit our Employer Demand Reports page at

These reports are updated monthly for the state and all 39 counties.


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