November 2014 Conference Board Employment Index Improves. But the Rate of Growth Decelerates Slightly
Written by Steven Hansen
The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index – which forecasts employment for the next 6 months – again strengthened. The index has improved now for 11 months. However, the rate of growth slowed.
The Conference Board believes future employment growth will likely be solid in the coming months – but Econintersect‘s own employment index is saying that economic pressures are continuing to grow but also is forecasting a slight deceleration in the employment growth rate within the next six months.
From the Conference Board:
The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) increased in November. The index now stands at 123.24, up from 122.8 (a downward revision) in October. This represents a 6.1 percent gain in the ETI compared to a year ago.
“The Employment Trends Index increased for the 11th straight month in November, and recent solid improvements suggest that strong job growth is likely to continue into early next year,” said Gad Levanon, Managing Director of Macroeconomic and Labor Market Research at The Conference Board. “We will probably reach the natural rate of unemployment, 5.5 percent, within a few months, and these tighter labor market conditions should lead to acceleration in wage growth.”
November’s increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from five of the eight components. In order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were: Industrial Production, Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, Number of Temporary Employees, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, and Job Openings.
To add context to this index, the following graph compares BLS non-farm payrolls, the Econintersect Employment Index, and The Conference Board ETI. Econintersect uses non-labor and mostly non-monetary economic pulse points in constructing its index, while The Conference Board uses mostly elements of employment data.
Comparing BLS Non-Farm Employment YoY Improvement (blue line, left axis) with Econintersect Employment Index YoY Improvement (red line, left axis) and The Conference Board ETI YoY Improvement (yellow line, right axis)
The graph above offsets the Conference Board ETI by 5 months. Note that both the Conference Board indices are showing an improving long term trend, whilst the short term trend shows deceleration.
Caveats on the Employment Trends Index
According to the Conference Board:
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.
The eight labor-market indicators aggregated into the Employment Trends Index include:
- Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get” (The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey
- Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now (© National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation)
- Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Part-Time Workers for Economic Reasons (BLS)
- Job Openings (BLS)
- Industrial Production (Federal Reserve Board)
- Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Unfortunately many of these indices are not accurate in real time being subject to at times significant backward revision.
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