09/29/2011 04:04 pm ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011

Online Job Searches Cut Length Of Unemployment By 25 Percent

By Sara Murray of the Wall Street Journal

Job searching on the Internet cuts the average unemployment spell by 25%, according to a new report.

The bonus from online job searching reverses a trend from more than a decade ago when searching for jobs online was either ineffective or counterproductive, according to a study by economics professors Peter Kuhn, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Hani Mansour, at the University of Colorado, Denver. A 2004 study showed workers who searched for jobs on the Internet suffered longer durations of unemployment.

“We speculate that significant improvements in technology over this period, ranging from better online job sites to network externalities associated with greater overall Internet penetration itself, might explain this change over time,” according to the study.

Online job searching tends to be most effective in reducing unemployment spells when job-seekers use it to contact friends and relatives, send out resumes or applications and look at ads. Contacting friends and relatives tended to be more rare among those searching for jobs, but it was also highly effective.

There was little effect of online job searching on wage growth though, an indication that Internet searches help jobless Americans find new positions faster – but not necessarily better positions.

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