Employment Index in U.S. Rose in October on More Job Openings

A measure of employment prospects in the U.S. improved in October for the first time in three months as fewer Americans said jobs were harder to get.

The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index increased 0.5 percent to 108.16 from the prior month’s revised reading of 107.63, the New York-based private research group said today. The measure climbed 4.6 percent from October 2011.

“The Employment Trends Index bounced back in October but only to the levels of July and August,” Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at the Conference Board, said today in a statement. “This is still a weak signal. Given the recent sluggishness of economic activity, employment growth is poised to remain slow in the coming months as well.”

Today’s report follows Labor Department figures released last week showing broad-based gains in employment in October. A healthier job market will help consumers spend more, cushioning the U.S. economy while the rest of the globe slows.

Payrolls expanded by 171,000 workers last month after a 148,000 gain in September that was larger than first estimated, the Labor Department said Nov. 2. The October increase exceeded the most optimistic of all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists with a median estimate of 125,000. The jobless rate rose to 7.9 percent as more people began looking for work.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators to forecast short-term hiring trends. On average, it can signal a rebound in hiring as little as three months before the fact and can predict job declines six to nine months in advance, the Conference Board said.

Improvements in six of the index’s eight components contributed to the gain in the overall gauge, today’s report showed. These included a drop in the share of people involuntarily working part-time and a decrease in first-time claims for unemployment benefits. The gain also reflected a pickup in industrial production and temporary employment.

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