Looking Online For Signs Of Job Growth

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The government's monthly report on employment is due out Friday, and many economists are predicting it will show significant job growth. One indication is that the number of job postings online surged last month.

The Labor Department report is a big deal; it moves markets. While the online numbers certainly aren't on that scale, the Monster Employment Index is up — 6 percent compared with a year ago — and that means more opportunities for the 15 million unemployed Americans to find a job.

"There are millions of postings on the Web at any one time," says Jesse Harriott of Monster Worldwide, an online jobs board. "And we're measuring that on a monthly basis, and we've seen that number start to grow as we compare this year to last year."

Online postings rose last month for everything from retail to health care — even construction, says Rony Kahan, co-founder of the jobs search engine Indeed.com.

"We view job postings as a leading indicator to show where companies are heading," Kahan says. "Once they get on the payrolls, they'll start to show up in the government numbers. But we think this definitely portends well for the coming months."

Companies such as AT&T, Bank of America, Tenet Healthcare Corp. and General Dynamics are among those recruiting for large numbers of jobs, according to an Indeed.com analysis.

In fact, General Dynamics has openings for 2,700 positions posted right now, says Colleen Nicoll, the senior manager for staffing. The jobs cover "everything from information technology, cybersecurity to shipbuilding and weapons systems and engineering," she says. "It is all across the board."

The company is holding job fairs in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington state this week alone, Nicoll says. She adds that it's also "seeing growth" in the Central Florida area.

Still, there are far more people looking for work in the United States than there are jobs to be had. The national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in February, down from 10.1 percent in October.

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