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posted on 08 June 2015

May 2015 Conference Board Employment Index Indicates Employment to Grow at 200,000 Jobs Per Month

Written by Steven Hansen

The Conference Board's Employment Trends Index - which forecasts employment for the next 6 months - improved, but the rate of growth slowed relative to last month.

Econintersect is forecasting marginally slower jobs growth.

From the Conference Board:

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) increased in May. The index now stands at 128.60, up from 128.10 (a downward revision) in April. The change represents a 5.1 percent gain in the ETI compared to a year ago.

"In the past six months, the Employment Trends Index has been growing at a 3.5 percent annual rate, which is solid, but slower than the rates of the past two years. We therefore expect employment to grow by about 200,000 new jobs per month, rather than the spectacular 250,000-300,000 we experienced in 2014," said Gad Levanon, Managing Director of Macroeconomic and Labor Market Research at The Conference Board. "Given that the labor force is barely expanding, job growth of about 200,000 per month will be sufficient to continue rapidly lowering the unemployment rate."

May's increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from six of the eight components. In order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were: Percentage of Firms with Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now, Industrial Production, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry, Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, 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 and the Econintersect indices are showing a declining rate of growth.

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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