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Employment index up a bit in April, points to better job growth

May 07, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • Job-seekers wait in line during a job fair in April in Portland, Ore.
Job-seekers wait in line during a job fair in April in Portland, Ore. (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- Despite Friday's lackluster unemployment report, a labor market indicator was up slightly in April and points to better job growth in the coming months.

The Conference Board's Employment Trends Index, which aggregates eight economic indicators, increased to 109.04 in April, up 0.8% from the previous month, the group said Monday.

The uptick came after the index dipped in March for the first time since autumn. April's figure was up 7.1% from a year ago.

The new reading on the labor market led Gad Levanon, the Conference Board's director of macroeconomic research, to predict that the pace of job growth should increase to about 150,000 to 175,000 a month through the summer.

On Friday, the government reported the economy added 115,000 net new jobs in April, below analyst projections of about 160,000.

"The growth in the Employment Trends Index in recent months is signaling moderate improvements in employment," Levanon said.

The group didn't expect a continuation of the winter's robust growth of 250,000 net new jobs a month, but April's job growth probably was below the recent trend and should give way to better numbers through the spring, he said.

The increase in the Employment Trends index last month was triggered by improvements in five of the eight indicators it tracks. The largest boost came from an increase in the percentage of companies with jobs that they have been unable to fill.

The other indicators showing improvement were the percentage of respondents who said jobs were hard to get, the number of people hired by the temporary help industry, industrial production, and real manufacturing and trade sales.

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