ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Employment index in U.S. declines, signaling slower job growth

BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/TIM BOYLE
A MEASURE OF JOB PROSPECTS fell ni November for the second time in the last three months.
Posted 12/10/12

WASHINGTON - A measure of job prospects fell in November for the second time in the past three months, indicating the U.S. job market will cool.

The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index decreased to 107.82 from 107.84 in October, the New York-based private research group said today. The measure rose 3.3 percent from November 2011.

“Employment growth over the next several months is likely to slow again,” Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at the Conference Board, said today in a statement. “Employment growth typically lags economic growth, and with the economy expected to decelerate in the current quarter and early 2013, a slowdown in employment won’t be far behind.”

The report follows Labor Department data last week that showed employers added more workers than projected in November and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since December 2008 as the workforce shrank. Faster hiring is needed to spur consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.

Payrolls rose by 146,000 last month following a revised 138,000 in October that was less than initially estimated, the Labor Department said on Dec. 7. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 85,000 advance. Private payrolls, which exclude government agencies, grew by 147,000 after a revised gain of 189,000.

The jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, the Labor Department report also showed last week. Prior to September, unemployment had been stuck above 8 percent for 43 consecutive months, the longest stretch in monthly records going back to 1948.

Fed policy

The lack of faster progress in the job market helps explain why Federal Reserve policy makers are weighing additional easing early next year to boost the economy. The central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee meets this week.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators to forecast short-term hiring trends. On average, it can signal a rebound in hiring as little as three months before the fact and can predict job declines six to nine months in advance, the Conference Board said.

The ETI’s drop last month was led by the surge in weekly jobless claims in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

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