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Job Board Traffic

(March 01, 2004) - We got a note from an employee of the California Economic Development Department about Friday's column. He wanted to know if we had some form of bias against the government's activities in the job board arena. It raised a number of interesting questions that we've forgotten for a while.

Here's how Friday's chart looks when updated to include both CareerCast and America's Job Bank.

There are tons of caveats to review when thinking about these additions. CareerCast's rank does not reflect the huge traffic from a number of key properties (including the Boston Globe, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal). If all the traffic were accounted for in Alexa, CareerCast's rank would rival the top three.) That said, we're pretty sure that the owners of the businesses that use the CareerCast service are probably more interested in getting credit for the traffic than giving it to a vendor. Evaluating CareerCast's contribution poses an interesting problem that we'll consider in an upcoming article.

As for the traffic to the government site, there are a fair number of job boards that deliver more traffic. More or less, you get what you pay for. Free ads on free sites produce somewhat limited results.

Our questions run in a different direction.

What in the world is the government doing competing with private industry in the job board market. By pricing advertising at $0, they are artificially placing a cap on the market and forcing it to act like a commodity business. It's just this sort of unclear thinking that is slowing down the economic recovery in general. From where we sit, the government has no business offering to give away economic value in direct competition with industry.

There is a powerfully important role for the government in the employment marketplace. We need a broad view of skills requirements and market availability. We could  use some assistance in converting the skills of those who have lost their jobs from technological obsolescence (outsourcing). Solving the productivity issues at the welfare end of the spectrum (and making the market for those workers as fluid as it was in the 90s) would be a grand project. Managing the local labor supply by inventorying and understanding it is a worthy task. Rewarding Research and Investment fuels the economy in the future. Making R&D investments (ridiculously shortchanged since the 1980s) is a great way to help.

The government has a role in the delivery of services that are not provided by the private sector.

It has none in areas where the private sector does an adequate job. It certainly has no business constraining the growth and effectiveness of our industry. AJB simply clutters the landscape while depressing prices.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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