RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The Triangle stands little chance of landing Amazon HQ2 if a new study of online job ads by the Internet giant are an indicator.

The highly respected Conference Board, a global independent business research organization, says its study points to the Washington, DC metro area and Boston as “the most likely candidates” based on the “large number of ads for headquarter caliber occupations and the growth rate in those ads.”

DC and Boston were included in 887 (up 17 percent) and 760 (up 32 percent) respectively year-over-year in 2017. (New York-Newark, like DC and Boston as well as the Triangle a named finalist for the project, had the most at nearly 1,000 but ads dropped 2 percent last year, the study says.)

How many such ads were there in the Raleigh metro?


That’s down from a whopping two from 2016.


Yet other studies have ranked the Triangle as a contender due in part to its rich tech talent base. The decision making process remains cloaked in secrecy, however, so handicapping by such as a group as The Conference Board makes for good conversation and speculation.

Can Triangle deliver?

A new poll from Elon College finds that a vast majority of Triangle residents wants HQ2. They stress “opportunity” as a big reason. And Amazon will be looking for people. Lots of them.

But The Conference Board notes Amazon would pretty much have to start from scratch in the Triangle. That could be a huge hurdle.

Amazon plans to hire 50,000 people in the metro selected as the winner of the $5 billion project. Yet many of the jobs are in specialties or occupations that proponents such as Wake Tech Community College President Dr. Stephen Scott say the talent-rich Triangle can help fill.

A chart from The Conference Board highlights talent Amazon seeks.

“According to Amazon, jobs for HQ2 will fall under management, engineering (preference for software development), legal, accounting, and administrative type occupations,” The Conference Board says.

“To help attract this level of talent, Amazon is seeking a city with a ‘strong university system’ and an abundance of recreational opportunities. But filling thousands of these high skilled positions can be challenging in a tight labor market, even in a city with an abundance of college educated residents.”

So the group went in search of jobs data through its Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Data Series, which it says “can measure real-time labor demand through advertised online job vacancies” that “allows us to measure Amazon’s current and historical demand for virtually all occupations throughout the country.”

A Conference Board graphic tracks online recruiting ads from Amazon

With a large presence already in DC and a growing one in Boston, The Conference Board notes that “Amazon’s current footprint in these cities could ease the hiring of 50,000 new employees and growing demand signals their desire to increase their presence. This is potentially indicative of a labor market suitable for a second Amazon headquarters.”

Amazon does have a growing presence in the Triangle and the Charlotte metro area, but most of that activity is focused on Amazon Prime shopping service and distribution of products.

The Conference Board also notes that finding workers with unemployment under 5 percent nationally will be a challenge for Amazon.

“Comparative labor conditions surely played a role for Amazon to include these cities on their shortlist. Relatively low unemployment, decent shares of workers with BAs and MAs and strong labor force growth in the last decade perhaps added to their appeal,” the authors wrote.

“However, Amazon’s small and declining demand for headquarter caliber occupations in these cities indicates a minimal presence, potentially complicating their talent search in today’s tight labor market.”

You can read the entire analysis online.