Fewer help-wanted advertisements appeared in newspapers across the country during March, a further indication of an anemic job market, a new survey shows.
"It could be months before a genuine turnaround in labor market conditions develops," said Kenneth Goldstein, an economist for the Conference Board, a business-research group that conducts the monthly survey."The recession may soon be over . . . but the labor market usually lags behind the general economy."
The board's Help-Wanted Advertising Index fell to 94 during March. That was down from 97 in February, 138 in March 1990 and was the lowest level in nearly eight years. It registered 100 in 1967.
The seasonally adjusted index measures the volume of job advertising in 51 newspapers nationwide, providing a useful gauge of employment conditions in various regions.
"All this indicates that the recession is still in place; the average worker is still vulnerable," said Edward Yardeni, chief economist at the Wall Street investment firm of C.J. Lawrence Inc.
Among the hardest hit regions, the Conference Board's help-wanted survey showed, was the Northeast, which remains in the grips of a severe recession.
The Pacific Coast, including California and Washington state, and South Atlantic, which encompasses Maryland through Florida, also experienced sharp downturns, the board said.
The Southwest and Rockies were the least affected, it said.
Goldstein blamed the decline in March help-wanted ads largely on a continued shakeout in the service sector, from retailing to banking, following a hiring frenzy in the '80s. The more plentiful jobs, he said, remain in the high-tech and health-care fields.