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Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index Plummets in March

An index measuring employment trends fell in March from the month earlier, as initial claims for unemployment spiked to a historic high, the Conference Board said in a report Monday.

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index was 60.39 in March, compared with an upwardly revised February measurement of 109.27. The index is down 45% from a year ago.

The Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a double-digit unemployment rate after peaking at 15% in May, said Gad Levanon, head of the Conference Board’s Labor Market Institute in prepared remarks.

“This period of declining employment is historically severe but could also be historically short,” Mr. Levanon said. “The most likely scenario is that within a couple of months, most of the orders to shut down non-essential businesses and stay at home will be lifted. While many employers will continue to shed workers after that time, these job losses will be more than offset by the millions who will return to work in the reopened businesses.”

The Conference Board said the index’s decrease was led by seven of the eight indicators: initial claims for unemployment insurance, the ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers, the number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry, the percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now, job openings, real manufacturing and trade sales, and industrial production.
Source: Dow Jones

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