Report Analyzes Online Job Ads

by Michelle Massie
April 25, 2014

Three out of five online job advertisements are for white-collar professional and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Individuals associated with the Center on Education and the Workforce serve in advisory roles to WDQC.

The report, The Online College Labor Market: Where the Jobs Are, analyzes the labor demand for college talent in the job market by exploring online job postings for college graduates. Click here for the full report, along with a technical report and executive summary.

“As the use of online job ads has proliferated beyond the simple job-search model, the research community is increasingly experimenting with the detailed breakdown of online job ads — referred to as online job ads data — to study labor market dynamics. Despite increased usage, there has been limited research assessing the usefulness of this data source,” according to the authors.

Some highlights from the report include:

  • Sixty-one percent of all online job ads for college graduates are in white-collar professional occupations (e.g. Managerial/professional office; 33 percent) and STEM (28 percent) occupations. Together, they account for 1.1 million online job ads in the second quarter of 2013.
  • The most in-demand white-collar professional jobs are accountants, auditors and medical/health services managers.
  • The most in-demand STEM occupations are application software developers and computer systems analysts. 
  • More than half of online job ads for college graduates in health care require a graduate degree.
  • Within the health care sector, registered nurses are the most in-demand occupation in online ads.

There remain some shortcomings in the data used in the report. The technical report offers more analysis and addresses the strengths and challenges of the job postings data. A major bias in online job ads is that more than 80 percent of job openings for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are posted online, compared to less than 50 percent of openings for jobseekers with less education, such as those with some college or an associate’s degree. Thus, the Georgetown report only examined online job postings that required a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The report also found that while most jobs in food and personal service do not require a college degree, 11 percent require a bachelor’s degree, mostly for jobs such as head chefs and supervisors.

Due to the fact that the online job ads tend to favor industries and occupations that seek high-skilled, white-collar workers, the report’s authors said they encourage readers and data users to exercise caution and utilize online job ads data in conjunction with other sources of educational data and labor market information. WDQC supports this approach.

While online job ads may provide an incomplete picture of the labor demand landscape, the data does offer a snapshot of the constantly changing labor market conditions with near-real time delivery. If used prudently, there is value in this data.