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A Sign of Hope for More Hiring
 But often, before hiring occurs, a job is posted on a Web site of some sort. If we look at job-posting numbers — a more recent snapshot of employers’ needs than the hiring data — the picture is more encouraging across a range of industries.
At Simply Hired, a job search engine, postings rose more than 50 percent last year over 2009, and they increased almost 70 percent in December 2010 over December 2009.
Simply Hired, which started in 2005, culls data from job boards and the Web sites of individual companies, newspapers, staffing agencies, government agencies and nonprofit groups. An average of about 5 million job postings are now on the site at any given time, said Gautam Godhwani, C.E.O. of Simply Hired — and that is approaching pre-recession levels.
It’s always possible, of course, that a company posting a job will decide not to hire someone after all. Or, it may not find someone with the skills it seeks. Still, the latest data offer reason for some optimism, Mr. Godhwani says.
Some people may be shaking their heads at this assessment. Almost half of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or more. They may have sent out hundreds, even thousands, of résumés, with little or no response, and despair of ever having paychecks and co-workers again.
The sad reality is that people who have been out of work for months have a harder time being hired than those who have been idle for mere weeks. And, beyond that, there are huge variations by geography and industry.
It is instructive to look at Simply Hired’s
breakdown of job postings by industry and occupation. Maybe your field isn’t as moribund as you think — or maybe you can adapt your skills to a more vibrant industry, or move to an area where your skills are in demand.
Mr. Godhwani was surprised to see a huge rebound in postings for manufacturing jobs — up 94 percent in December 2010 over December 2009. Automotive job postings, which Simply Hired breaks out separately from manufacturing ones, were up even more — 137 percent — as automakers got back on their feet. Transportation-related jobs (involving the shipping of cargo, for example) rose by a staggering 337 percent.
Openings for financial specialists and accountants rose sharply in December over the year-earlier period. Other occupational categories showing big increases were lawyers, judges and legal support workers; office and administrative workers; and retail sales staff.
But many of these openings are clustered in certain metropolitan areas, and people looking for jobs outside those regions will have a harder time finding work.
Last month, areas with the most unemployed people per job opening were Miami/Fort Lauderdale (at 5 to 1) , Detroit, Sacramento and Los Angeles (all at 4 to 1), according to Simply Hired. Areas with a 1-to-1 ratio of unemployed people to job openings, and therefore offering a much better chance of landing work, included Washington, D.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Baltimore; Boston; Milwaukee; Minneapolis/ St. Paul; Oklahoma City; the San Francisco Bay Area; and Denver.
And certain cities are stronger in specific industries. For retail and wholesale trade, Seattle and New York are the best places to be; for media and telecommunications, San Francisco and New York are hot spots. For health care, you can improve your odds by heading to Boston or San Antonio.
Don’t restrict your job search to big-name companies. Employment by companies in the private sector rose by 297,000 last month, according to ADP, a payroll firm that conducts a regular employment survey. Companies with 500 or more employees were responsible for only 36,000 of that number. The lion’s share of the hiring was done by smaller firms. In general, ADP said, “nonfarm private employment grew very strongly in December.”
Over at
Indeed.com, a big job search engine similar to Simply Hired, numbers are also on the rise. Retail, hospitality, transportation and manufacturing are all rebounding, said Paul Forster, Indeed’s C.E.O. (The New York Times is an investor in Indeed.com.)
Though real estate postings are up, they are “definitely recovering more slowly,” he said, and health care hasn’t grown as much as many other industries, “but that’s because it didn’t decline as much” in the recession.
A persistent problem is that many of the unemployed don’t have skills that are in demand, Mr. Forster said.
Want to get a job quickly? Just learn HTML 5 , a Web development language. It’s among the skills that employers now covet the most, along with experience in mobile apps, the Android operating system and
Twitter, according to Indeed.com data.
Beyond seeking training in a high-demand field, job seekers may need to think about switching industries, moving to a different type of job within an industry, or relocating, Mr. Forster said. “People have to find a way to adapt their skills to the jobs available.”