After last Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on unemployment and payrolls, it was assumed that the labor market remained strong. There were less than solid payrolls gains, despite a formal 4.6% unemployment rate. There was also a concern that the average hourly earnings ticked lower.
Now on Monday there is another look at the strength of the labor market. The Conference Board has released its Employment Trends Index showing an increase in November, after also having increased in October. The index rose to 129.96 in November, versus 128.95 in October. The change represents a 2.7% gain from a year ago.
The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators. Aggregating these individual indicators into a composite index is meant to filter out noise to show the underlying trends more clearly.
November’s improvement in the Employment Trends Index was fueled by positive contributions from six of the eight components. These were shown as follows (strongest first): Ratio of Involuntarily Part-Time to All Part-Time Workers, Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now, Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry, and Industrial Production.
The Conference Board’s Gad Levanon said:
The Employment Trends Index is showing some signs of acceleration, suggesting that employment growth will not slow down further in the coming months. Moderate employment growth will be enough to make the labor market even tighter, leading to more visible acceleration in wages and inflation.
What economists and investors alike know is that the Employment Trends Index is not a major market mover like the actual employment situation report from the U.S. Department of Labor. What this does do is to further segment where the jobs market is showing strength and to highlight if there are spots showing weakness that are not covered as much by the BLS report.