Online job index picks up

Monster Employment Index shows slight rebound in August reading, as even construction, finance see more opportunities.

NEW YORK ( -- An index of online job availability showed a slight increase in August, showing improvement across a variety of industries.

The Monster Employment Index, published Thursday by the the job search Web site, came in with a reading of 186 in the month, up from the 183 reading in July and matching the reading of June.

The index showed 16 of 23 occupational categories tracked by the Index registered increased online job availability last month.

Some of the sectors with greater hiring opportunities included fields that have been hit hard by the meltdown in the mortgage markets, which hurt real estate sales and home building.

Finance and insurance edged up six points, or 4 percent, but remained flat year-over-year. Online job availability in the construction industry also rose eight points in August. It is now up 9 percent on a year-over-year basis.

But the retail sector, which has been supported by continued solid consumer spending, saw a sharp 7 point drop in the index for online job opportunities.

The index measures employer job opportunities culled from more than 1,500 different Web sites, including Monster. Even with the improved reading, the firm said is sees a softening of the labor market.

"Although the Index was broadly up in August, the overall increase in online job availability was more modest than in previous years and points to further moderation in online recruitment activity compared to last year," said Steve Pogorzelski, a Monster executive vice president, in the group's report.

The report comes the day before the government's official August employment report, and the day after a reading of private sector employment by payroll service firm ADP showed a slight decline that took it to the lowest level since 2003.

Economists surveyed by are forecasting that the Labor Department report Friday will show a net gain of 110,000 jobs at both private sector and public sector employers in August, up from the 92,000 rise in July. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain at 4.6 percent. Top of page