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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This blog post is obsolete.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

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