Let’s say that you’re an institutional planner in the Miami metro. You want to assess whether or not a new veterinary technology program would be a viable option for your college. A large part of your work will be estimating demand for the occupation.
Right away, you see that there was a monthly average of only 19 unique job postings for vet techs in Miami from February 2015 to July 2015. With this information alone, it seems that there isn’t much demand for this occupation. But be aware of the dangers of using too few sources, especially in the case of job postings.
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) has shown that job postings alone are an inadequate measure of demand, especially when researching positions that require less than a bachelor’s degree. In fact, CEW estimates that only 30 to 40% of job postings for workers with some college or an associate degree are posted online—a trend that Emsi has identified as well.
That’s because applicants for most middle-skill positions are less likely to search and apply for jobs online, so it doesn’t make sense for employers to advertise this way. So how can you adequately estimate demand for jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree but more than a high school diploma? Use more sources.
Emsi’s hires data reveals that vet techs in Miami are one example of this common underrepresentation of associate-level jobs in postings. There are on average 164 monthly hires for vet techs in Miami—that’s a ratio of 12 hires for every one posting!
What’s more, the occupation has experienced 37% growth in the Miami metro between 2011 and 2015, growing from 1,724 to 2,359 jobs in just five years. And growth isn’t stopping any time soon; it is projected to grow 14% between 2015 and 2020 (roughly the same pace as national trends).
Used in tandem, this data suggests that there may be high demand for vet techs in Miami, despite a lack of representation in job postings.
Let’s take a look at a few other examples where using multiple data types in conjunction reveals powerful, actionable insights—and why job postings data can be misleading on its own.
When Job Postings Are Overrepresented
Associate-level jobs are generally underrepresented in postings—but this may not be true for all associate-level occupations or all regions. In fact, without other data types to pull from, it is impossible to know whether jobs are over- or underrepresented in postings—or what, if anything, postings say about demand.
Take the example of diagnostic medical sonographers in Los Angeles. Between February and July 2015, there were on average 130 unique postings each month, but there were only 42 average monthly hires.
Without that hires number, you might guess that far more of those postings resulted in hires. And seeing those numbers side-by-side produces new questions: Are employers posting ads but not hiring because they can’t find talent? Maybe. They could also be collecting résumés for a rainy day.
Traditional labor market information can provide insight into the past and future performance of diagnostic medical sonographers in LA: 201 of these jobs were added between 2011 and 2015 (14% growth); in addition, Emsi’s projections estimate that 348 more jobs will be added in the next five years (21% growth).
That’s a good outlook, but it has a catch: Los Angeles is producing more completers for this profession than any other metro in the country (2,033 degree completions in 2014)—although most of these completers (1,345 completions) are graduating from general health services programs and may be entering a variety of occupations upon graduation.
Any LA-area institution that is looking to start a new program in this field would be smart to research competing institutions to determine how they stack up in terms of pricing, facilities, faculty, internship opportunities, etc. It’d also be worth it to contact local employers to find out firsthand whether or not companies need more talent.
When Posting Intensity is High or Low
Posting intensity, or the number of duplicate postings per unique posting, can be a very helpful indicator of demand. When the ratio shows above-average intensity, it indicates that companies may be having a hard time filling those positions. (It could also mean something else entirely; perhaps prices for postings dropped, allowing companies to increase their posting intensity while staying within the same budget.)
High Posting Intensity
In the Philadelphia metro, the architectural and civil drafters occupation had a posting intensity ratio of 8:1 between February 2015 and July 2015, meaning that there were 8 duplicate postings for each unique posting (see below for month-by-month breakdown). The regional average for all occupations is 6:1. So, regional companies may be trying harder to hire for architectural and civil drafters than other occupations.
But average unique postings (53) are less than average monthly hires (78). So don’t let posting intensity hold too much weight; it can be misleading. What’s really going on?
Between 2011 and 2015, architectural and civil drafter jobs declined 5% in Philadelphia, and these jobs are projected to decline 9% more between 2015 and 2020. Sometimes declines happen because companies can’t find workers to fill job openings. Other times, of course, occupations decline because there is less demand.
In this case, it might be helpful to look at national trends. In the United States, architectural and civil drafters grew 4% between 2011 and 2015, but—similarly to Philadelphia—this occupation is expected to decline 3% in the next five years. So, while high posting intensity seems to indicate that it has been difficult for companies to find workers, it is unlikely that this occupation is in very high demand.
Low Posting Intensity
Low posting intensity can also be deceiving. Computer network support specialist jobs are highly likely to be advertised online, even though these are associate-level positions. That’s because the desired applicant is computer literate, enjoys technology, and is likely to search for jobs online.
But in the Dallas metro, the computer network support specialist occupation has a posting intensity of 3:1 (see below for month-by-month breakdown). The average for all occupations in the area is 5:1.
Does this low posting intensity mean companies aren’t trying very hard to hire for this position? Let’s see if traditional labor market data can answer that question.
Computer network support specialist jobs have grown 13% between 2011 and 2015, growing from 7,126 to 8,026 jobs. That growth is projected to soften, adding only 152 jobs (2% growth) over the next five years. Meanwhile, there were approximately 915 relevant completions in Dallas in 2014. So it’s likely that companies don’t need to search high and low for applicants—and the area may not need more programs to train for it.
This is just another example of how you can use a variety of data sources in conjunction to produce actionable insights into the labor market, helping you to estimate demand and make better programming decisions.
- Contextualizing Real-Time and Traditional Labor Market Data: The Key Perspective That Hiring Data Provides and Practical Applications for Using Job Postings & LMI in Tandem
- Using Data to Estimate Demand for Occupations that Require a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher