September 2014 Conference Board Employment Index Improvement Continues But Rate of Growth Slows
Written by Steven Hansen
The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index for September 2014 – which forecasts employment for the next 6 months – again strengthened. The rate of year-over-year growth of the index declined from the previous month (but still strongly positive), and this was the first month after sixth month in a row of improvement in the three month rolling average that the rate of growth decelerated.
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 now pushing for slight improvement in the employment growth within the next six months.
From the Conference Board:
The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) increased in September. The index now stands at 121.68, up from 121.32 (an upward revision) in August. This represents a 6.1 percent gain in the ETI compared to a year ago.
“The Employment Trends Index increased for the ninth consecutive month, signaling solid job growth through year end,” said Gad Levanon, Director of Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board. “A combination of positive and negative forces has been driving the rapid decline in the unemployment rate in recent years. Hiring is strong, but productivity growth is weak, and the participation rate continues to decline. None show signs of reversing.”
September’s increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from six of its eight components. In order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were: Industrial Production, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, Number of Temporary Employees, 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. Econintersect forecast employment strengthening beginning in February (red line). Note that the rate of growth of the Conference Board’s Employment Index has been in the same range for the last two years - but is currently in an improving trend line.
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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