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The Conference Board Employment Trends Index Shows the Fastest Decline 35-Years

Nineteen-month long decline continues as unemployment trends remain steady

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index (ETI) fell sharply in February. The index now stands at 91.0, decreasing 3.2 percent from the January revised figure of 94.0, and down 21.7 percent from a year ago.

"Over the past year, the Employment Trends Index has declined faster than at any other time in its 35-year history, with the most severe decreases taking place since the Fall," says Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board. "As job losses persist, the drop in overall earnings makes a rebound in consumer spending unlikely for the next few months. The decline in employment will only moderate once companies anticipate some revival in domestic and global economic activity."

The 19-month-long decline in the Employment Trends Index is seen in all eight of its components, most notably over the past six months in temporary-help hires and part-time workers for economic reasons. The Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators, each of which has proven accurate in its own area. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out so-called "noise" to show underlying trends more clearly.

The eight labor-market indicators aggregated into the Employment Trends Index include:

• Percentage of respondents who say they find "jobs hard to get" (The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey)

• Initial claims for unemployment insurance (U.S. Department of Labor)

• Percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now (© National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation)

• Number of employees hired by the temporary-help Industry (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

• Part-time workers for economic reasons (BLS)

• Job openings (BLS)

• Industrial production (Federal Reserve Board)

• Real manufacturing and trade sales (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)