Good news about the job market is rare these days, but here comes something to savor: The Conference Board Employment Trends Index increased by a slim margin in September. This was, listen up, the first increase in the index since January 2008, or very nearly the start of the recession. The index serves as a leading indicator for the labor market.
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The index is made up of eight economic indicators, and September's increase was driven by improvement in four: initial claims for unemployment insurance; industrial production; real manufacturing and trade sales; and—from the National Federation of Independent Business—the percentage of firms with positions they're not able to fill right now.
While the Labor Department's September jobs report was worse than expected, this increase in the index indicates that the trend of declining job losses will continue, says Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board.
That's no doubt welcome news to job seekers discouraged by Friday's report that employers had cut another 263,000 jobs from payrolls in September, adding to the volume of unemployed, now reaching 15.1 million.
U.S. Treasury Chief Economist Alan Krueger had much the same message as Levanon. "We do see clear signs the labor market conditions are not deteriorating as rapidly as they were in the first half of the year, despite the disappointing news for the month of September," Krueger said on Friday, according to Reuters.