The unemployment picture may be easing a bit in the Carolinas and Georgia if online job advertisements are any indication of what’s happening on the work front.

According to the Conference Board, a private research group, the from April. Nationwide, the report noted that online advertisements increased by 250,000, the largest monthly increase since October 2006.

In North Carolina, postings increased 5.1 percent to 80,000.

In Georgia, 88.4 ads were posted, up 9 percent from the previous month.

South Carolina postings increased to 48,500 from 41,000 the previous month.

However, the noted that in job seekers still far outnumber open positions. In Atlanta alone there are five applicants for every open spot.

The job openings also reflect just how grim the employment picture is from a year ago. North Carolina employers posted 108,000 openings a year ago, Georgia 128,000 and South Carolina 48,500.

The grim North Carolina picture is reflected as well in the most recent report from the North Carolina Technology Association and SkillProof, a nationwide talent management firm.

In April, North Carolina firms posted 1,140 openings related to technology, up 20 from March but still not even a third of the 3,690 openings a year earlier.

Nationally, the Conference Board report said there were about 3.36 million online job ads last month, up from about 3.11 million in April but down from 3.79 million online ads a year earlier.

The May gain was the first monthly increase since a rise of 21,000 in October 2008. And it was the largest since online ads rose 198,300 in October 2006.

While the apparent bounce in labor demand is a welcome sign following sharp declines in the past year, Gad Levanon, senior economist at the New York-based research group, said the May data doesn’t mean the unemployment rate is likely to fall.

"Even with the current positive signs, the likely outlook is for unemployment to continue to rise and employment to fall at more modest levels throughout the summer," Levanon said this week in a news release. "In April, there were 10.6 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies."

Online job ads were up in 43 states last month and Levanon said labor demand, which was plummeting in December and January, now appears to be leveling off.

"Labor demand typically leads the trend in both employment and unemployment, so positive signals on labor demand are always important," Levanon said. "April and May are both months when businesses typically step up their demand for workers. This year, while April was weak, by May employers were placing ads for workers in numerous locations across the nation."

The latest numbers follow a dip of 131,000 ads in April, which was well below the record declines of 507,000 and 506,000 in December and January.

Online job ads had declined by more than 1.32 million from November 2008 to April, according to the report.

The Conference Board’s monthly Help-Wanted Online Data Series measures the number of new online jobs and openings reposted from the previous month on more than 1,200 major Internet job boards and smaller Web sites that serve niche markets.

In the South, Virginia saw the largest increase in online job ads in May with 11,800 new postings, followed by Texas with 11,300, and Maryland with 11,200.

New York showed the sharpest increase with 20,300 in the Northeast, followed by Massachusetts with 10,000 and Pennsylvania with 7,900.

In the West, California had the largest increase with 30,700 new online job ads followed by Colorado with 11,600. But in the Midwest, Michigan, a state hit hard by the downturn in the automotive industry, saw a decrease of 2,100. Illinois had the largest increase with 8,400.