Employment Slowdown May be on the Horizon


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The Conference Board Employment Trends Index (ETI) declined in March, following an increase in February. The index now stands at 110.98, down from 111.62 (an upward revision) in February. Despite the decrease this month, there has been a 3.1% gain in the ETI over the past 12 months.

“After growing rapidly through most of 2017 and 2018, the Employment Trends Index has been fluctuating around a flat trend in recent months, suggesting that employment growth will continue, but at a slower rate through the summer,” said Gad Levanon, Chief Economist, North America, at The Conference Board. “Particularly concerning was the decline in the number of workers employed by the Temporary-Help Industry, an important leading indicator and component of the ETI, which declined by one percent in the past three months. The main trends in the US labor market—including growing employment and labor force participation, tightening labor markets and accelerating wages—are likely to continue in 2019, but more modestly.”

March’s decrease was fueled by negative contributions from three of the eight components. From the largest negative contributor to the smallest, these were: Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get,” Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, and the Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators, each of which has proven accurate in its own area. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out “noise” to show underlying trends more clearly.

About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

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