(Reuters) – A monthly gauge of online labor demand in the United States rose in June and is nearly 21 percent above the reading from a year ago, its highest growth rate in 45 months, a private research group said on Thursday.

Monster Worldwide Inc (MWW.N), an online careers and recruiting firm, said its employment index rose to 141 points in June from 134 in May. The current month’s reading is 20.5 percent above the 117 mark a year ago, the highest year-on-year growth reading since September 2006.

“While substantial job creation has yet to occur to reduce the existing levels of unemployment and underemployment, job availability is improved from where it was a year ago.” said Jesse Harriott, a senior vice president at Monster Worldwide.

The Monster index registered increases in 13 of 20 industries and 17 of 23 occupations monitored. Five categories remained flat in each.

Online job demand was higher in all nine U.S. census regions, with West North Central registering the largest increase.

The report comes ahead of the U.S. Labor Department’s release of weekly initial claims for unemployment benefits, due later on Thursday and expected at total 452,000 according to a Reuters poll of economists.

The government’s closely-watched payrolls report is due on Friday.

The Monster Employment index is a monthly analysis based on a selection of corporate career sites and job boards. The margin of error is approximately plus or minus 1 percent.