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Healthcare Sector's Online Job Ads Falter

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 3, 2009

Adding weight to the belief that we are in a jobless recovery, a new report Monday showed that online job listings decreased slightly across many employment sectors nationally, and that healthcare was one of the casualties.

The Conference Board's Help Wanted OnLine Data Series report, which tracks more than 1,000 online job boards across the United States, found that online advertised vacancies across all occupations fell by 83,200 listings in October, for a total of 3.2 million.

"The September and October numbers are a further indication that, thus far, the recovery is weak," says Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board. "Labor demand is a leading indicator of employment, and the numbers indicate that employment is not likely to rise for the rest of this year."

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, the largest category in terms of volume, dropped 68,900 in October to 535,600. Labor demand for healthcare support occupations also declined in October, down 9,400 to 104,400, the report said.

Levanon says healthcare is a broad field, and the relative tightness of the labor market varies substantially from the higher-paying practitioner and technical jobs to the lower-paying support occupations.

In September, the last month for which unemployment data are available, the study found that for every unemployed person looking for work in a healthcare practitioner or technical occupation, there were 2.7 advertised vacancies and the average wage in these occupations was $32.64/hour. In healthcare support occupations, however, where the average wage was $12.66, there were more than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

In the overall economy, while layoffs have slowed, overall the labor market remains anemic. "The gap between the number of unemployed and the number of advertised vacancies is about 11.8 million, with 4.5 unemployed for every online advertised vacancy," Levanon says.

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