December 28, 2004
The job openings rate and the Help-Wanted Index have trends that are roughly similar.
However, the decrease from December 2000 to November 2001 was much sharper for the Help-Wanted Index, which experienced a drop of 42 percent, compared with a drop of 30 percent in the job openings rate.
The difference in scope and definition between the Help-Wanted Index and the job openings rate may account for some of this difference. A change in the way employers advertise open positions may also help to explain; for example, if a large number of employers stopped posting advertisements in the newspaper in favor of advertising on one of the many Internet sites, the decline in the Help-Wanted Index would not represent an economic movement. In addition, Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) estimates from December 2000 through 2001 had larger measures of error than the 2002 and later estimates.
The job openings data come from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey and the unemployment rate comes from the Current Population Survey. The "Help-Wanted Index" referenced above is the Conference Board's Help-Wanted Advertising Index, which is a measure of the volume of help-wanted advertising in major newspapers across the country. For additional information, see "The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey: what initial data show," by Kelly A. Clark, Monthly Labor Review, November 2004.