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How to read Indeed job posting data

This blog post is obsolete. Indeed changed the methodology for its data in January 2021.

Tracking the availability of new jobs is no easy task. But FRED recently added online job postings data from Indeed. These data are presented in an interesting way, so some explanation is in order.

First, the data cover a 7-day moving average of job postings on Indeed.com as well as other online platforms. Indeed makes every effort to remove duplicate job postings from these counts, but doesn’t include job postings that are not found online. The proportion of online postings has been steadily increasing, and this brings us to our second point.

If you measure only some of the job postings—in this case, online only—and know that this proportion is increasing, it’s unrealistic to compare the data from previous years with the data from the current year without making any adjustments. An unadjusted measurement would likely systematically show an increase every year simply because the proportion of online postings is increasing.

So one needs to reset every year of statistics, and that’s what happens with this dataset: Every February 1 is set to a value of 100 for every year of data. This adjustment allows us to see how the postings are evolving.

For example, in the graph above, we see that on April 6, 2020, the 7-day moving average of new job postings was at –51.2%. This means that postings on April 6, 2020, as compared with February 1, 2020, were 51.2% lower than postings on April 6, 2019, as compared with February 1, 2019. But this figure of 51.2% doesn’t include any changes that may have happened between 2019 and 2020.

Despite our best efforts here, we know this may still be a bit confusing. So, a short explanation is that the data are useful for looking at patterns within the year, but not as useful for looking at patterns across years. Of course, 2020 has been pretty special, with all its dramatic changes, which show up in the graph. At present, we have less than a year of data, so we’ll need to wait a bit for all those interesting yearly patterns to show up. As with any FRED data series, you can check in at any time to see what’s new.

How this graph was created: Start from the release table, check the series you wish to display, and click “Add to Graph.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: IHLCHGNEWUS, IHLCHGUS

The COVID-19-induced “she-cession”

BLS data show more employment losses for women

Economic downturns have tended to affect men’s employment more than women’s, which gave rise to terms such as “he-cession” or “man-cession” and “he-covery.” Although this dynamic was true at the time of the Great Recession, it doesn’t hold true for the COVID-19-induced recession.

The FRED graph above displays data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: monthly, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for men and women from January 2007 to September 2020. During the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009), the unemployment rate rose from 5.1% to 10.6% for men and 4.9% to 8.3% for women.

Those employment losses contrast greatly with the losses in the COVID-19-induced recession: Women’s unemployment rate rose from 3.4% to 16.2% between February and April 2020 and men’s rose from 3.6% to 13.5%. Although the unemployment rate has declined considerably since its peak in April, the unemployment gap between men and women still persists.

How might we explain (not mansplain) this large and different gender gap in unemployment? One potential explanation is the ongoing closures of schools and day care centers that increased parents’ childcare needs and reduced their flexibility. As unemployment often results in earnings losses, this recession could contribute to an increase in income inequality between men and women, especially if childcare responsibilities continue to fall disproportionately on mothers.

How this graph was created: Search for and select “Unemployment Rate -Women.” From the “Edit Graph” menu, use the “Add Line” tab to search for and select “Unemployment Rate – Men.” Add that new data series to the existing graph. Adjust the sample period to January 2007 to September 2020.

Suggested by Praew Grittayaphong and Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria.

View on FRED, series used in this post: LNS14000001, LNS14000002


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