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Job Picture Brightens

Looking for work? There's good news on the employment front, with two new surveys indicating that employers are starting to create new jobs and fill old ones left vacant through the long recession.

Chief financial officers at 56% of the companies surveyed by Financial Executives International and Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business said they intended to add employees within the next six months. While they were less positive about the nation's overall employment rate, expecting a 9% unemployment rate through most of next year, at their own firms they said hiring would increase by an average of 4%.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board's monthly survey of online job demand found that 40 out of 50 states posted gains in October. Advertised vacancies rose 113,700 to 4.4 million, following an increase of 59,900 in September, according to the Conference Board's Help Wanted OnLine data series, released November 1.

"In this slow economic recovery, the October rise is welcome news that the trend in labor demand continues to move in a positive direction, albeit at a very moderate pace," said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board in a prepared statement. "The October increase reflected a moderate rise in a range of occupations and geographically across the nation. The slow but steady upward trend of the last seven months points to modest growth in employment through the end of 2010."

Regional numbers

West: The biggest gains were in the West with California driving the increase, largely due to a 32,100 hike in advertised jobs, largely for positions in management and math. But the survey found more advertised jobs in every Western state, including Washington, Arizona, Colorad, Nevada, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska and New Mexico. The total increase in Western job postings last month: 47,800.

Midwest: Some 41,200 new jobs were posted in the Midwest in October, making it the country's second most vibrant job market, according to the Conference Board survey. Postings in Ohio were up 11,500 to 151,600, with demand highest for health care, technical workers, computer and math related jobs. Job postings in Illinois rose 10,600. The only state to lose postings was Indiana, where there were 100 less help-wanted advertisements posted on line. Michigan jobs were up 5,200 to 107,600; Wisconsin gained 4,100; Minesota, 3,600; Missouri, 2,100, North Dakota up 500.

South: The most significant gains in the South were in Georgia where 11,900 new jobs were posted. Again, the demand was primarily for health care and technical workers. In Texas 8,500 new positions were advertised for primarily computer and math jobs; Florida posted 800 new jobs, while job openings continued to decline in Virginia where postings were down 3,400. Maryland also posted a decline of 2,800; North Carolina Fell 600. But job postings rose in Oklahoma (2,900) and Louisiana (1,000) and were unchanged in Kentucky.

Northeast: This region, which includes Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont added 4,000 job listings in October. But three states in the region -- New York, New Hampshire and Rhode Island -- experienced a decline in job postings.

Supply vs. demand

That's the (relatively) good news. The bad news is that the supply/demand rate for jobs remains at 3.44 nationwide, indicating that there are more than 3 job seekers for every advertised vacancy. The supply demand rate is worst in Mississippi and Michigan, where 6 people are looking for work for every advertised job; Indiana and California, where there are roughly five unemployed workers for each advertised opening.

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