Employment Trends Index Confirms Slight Payrolls Gain

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When most people think of employment readings, they most likely think of the U.S. Department of Labor’s unemployment and payrolls report. Still, there are other reports that act to confirm the direction of certain numbers. One such reading is the monthly report called the Conference Board Employment Trends Index.

This report is referred to as the ETI, and it rose in September to 128.51, versus a slight decline in the month of August’s revision down to 127.96. The ETI’s change represented a 1.1 percent-point gain from a year ago.

Note that many investors and economists are discounting Friday’s Labor Department report. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 156,000 in September, but factoring in the August and July payrolls made the net revision a loss of just 7,000. Reuters had the consensus estimate at 175,000 for September’s nonfarm payrolls, and Dow Jones had a consensus estimate of 172,000. Bloomberg’s consensus estimate was 168,000, and the Econoday range was 155,000 to 200,000.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators. September’s gains were generated by positive contributions from seven of the eight components. These were shown as follows:

  • Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get,”
  • Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers,
  • Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance,
  • Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry,
  • Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales,
  • Job Openings,
  • and Industrial Production.

Gad Levanon, who is chief economist at The Conference Board for North America, said:

The Employment Trends Index increased to 128.51 in September, despite a large decline in one component, NFIB, and suggests moderate job growth through the first quarter of 2017. Despite the recent declines in corporate profits, employers are not showing any signs of reducing payrolls.

Investors and economists alike often ignore the ETI as a market-moving event. That being said, it is important to understand what is happening under the surface and to know if revisions ahead will be for gains or revised lower.