The Conference Board Employment Trends Index (ETI) increased 0.8 percent in April to 108.04, up from the revised figure of 107.18 in March. This April reading is 7.1 percent higher than a year ago.
The ETI aggregates eight labor-market indicators. The April increase was driven by positive contributions from five of the components, including percentage of firms with positions presently not able to fill, a lesser percentage of respondents who find “jobs hard to get,” industrial production, the number of temporary workers, and real manufacturing and trade sales.
The other three components are initial claims for unemployment insurance, part-time workers for economic reasons, and job openings.
The upward trend in the ERI signals moderate improvements in growth Conference Board Director of Macroeconomic Research Gad Levanon said in a statement. “We did not expect employment growth in December to February, averaging almost 250,000 a month, to continue. However, the disappointing job gain in April (115,000, the smallest increase in six months) is probably below the current trend and should pick up about 150,000-175,000 jobs a month through the summer.”
The release of the ETI follows a rocky week of disappointing labor market news. The unemployment rate dipped to 8.1 percent, but this was widely attributed to people who had left the workforce.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, released late last month, showed little change from March. Readings were mixed, as consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved, but those claiming business conditions are “bad” edged up. Appraisal of the job market was also mixed. Those stating that jobs are “hard to get” declined, as did those stating jobs are “plentiful.” Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased, while those expecting them to worsen increased.
Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy, increased only slightly in March in the latest Commerce Department figures. But it rose 2.9 percent in the first quarter, the fastest pace in more than a year.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.