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Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index Rises for Fourth Straight Month in August

An index measuring employment trends in the U.S. rose in August for the fourth consecutive month as job growth retained upward momentum, data from the Conference Board showed Tuesday.

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index was 52.55 in August, compared with an upwardly revised figure of 51.37 in July.

Despite the continuous improvement trend registered since May, the labor market is still far from making up all lost ground in March and April, as the index is well down from 109.8 a year ago, the report said. In February, before the coronavirus hit to the economy, the index was at 109.27.

The improvement of the Employment Trends Index follows a strong employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, published last Friday, which showed the U.S. created 1.37 million jobs in August, pushing the unemployment rate down to 8.4%.

Job growth continues to gain momentum despite the rise in new Covid-19 cases at the beginning of the summer, Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute, said in prepared remarks.

“Over the coming months, job growth will persist as industries impacted by social distancing such as travel, hotels, restaurants and personal care will continue to recover,” Mr. Levanon said. However, another wave of infections this fall would limit the expansion of the U.S. labor market, he said.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor market-related indicators to show underlying trends in employment conditions. Six of them made positive contributions to the index in August.

From the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were: initial claims for unemployment insurance, the number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry, the ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers, the percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now, job openings, and industrial production.

Those indicators which did not contribute positively to the index were the percentage of respondents who say they find “jobs hard to get,” and real manufacturing and trade sales.
Source: Dow Jones

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