Lisa Katz| Crain’s Detroit Blog
This year the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) began releasing quarterly data reports on employer job demand measured through online postings. This week marks the release of the second quarter report for 2013. We found an 11.5 percent gain in job postings compared to last quarter (72,941 in Q2 versus 65,444 in Q1), although job demand is down overall compared to the same time last year (about 20 percent).
This means that hiring will likely cool off a bit, following a period of brisk activity to meet pent-up demand that accumulated during the recession. We expect job demand will go down again over the next two quarters, accounting for seasonal shifts in hiring activity (job demand almost always go down in the second part of the year).
Despite some of these downward moving trends, the reality is that job demand is still relatively strong in our region, and postings are up 40 percent from where they were pre-recession in 2007. And, importantly, the region’s labor force — those actively working or seeking work — has begun to steady. 
Why does this matter? Since 2002 the region has seen a regular decline in the number of people seeking jobs here. These individuals either gave up on their job search, retired or took their search elsewhere. Steady labor force participation could be an indicator that jobseekers are feeling better about local job opportunities. The number employed in Southeast Michigan went up by 38,662 workers (1.8 percent) between May 2012 and 2013.
Interestingly, if labor force participation starts to go up at a rate faster than employment (that is people begin looking for jobs at a rate faster than they are landing them), we could actually see our unemployment rate go up. (Unemployment — those actively looking and available for work — is a ratio of labor force participation and employment.) So that is a trend we will have to watch even as the economy improves. For now, unemployment continues to click downward (it was at 8.77 percent in May 2013), although it remains above the national average.
Across the board, job demand (online postings) fell for each of the major occupational clusters that WIN regularly tracks (health care, information technology and advanced manufacturing). Also, several counties saw decreases compared to last year. Job demand in the city of Detroit, however, grew 13.8 percent, accounting for 17,726 online postings in Q2 2013. Of the 2,149 additional posting the city saw compared to this time last year, 761 (over 35 percent) were related to information technology.
The region’s top five online job postings for Q2 2013 were:
- software developers (3,061)
- sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, except technical and scientific products (2,245)
- retail salespeople (2,210)
- registered nurses (1,956)
- customer service representatives (1,639)
 Bureau of Labor Statistics data is available through May 2013.