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Employment Trends Index declines in January, but government shutdown affects reading

February 04, 2019

The Conference Board’s US Employment Trends Index declined in January following an increase in December; however, the year-over-year change remains positive. The index fell to a reading of 109.56 in January from a downwardly revised reading of 110.96 in December.

Due to the government shutdown, some of the components in this month’s Employment Trends Index release were unavailable or biased, according to Gad Levanon, chief economist, North America, at The Conference Board. He noted users should take this month’s decline with some caution.

“However, we can still conclude that the index has experienced some softening since the summer, suggesting that job growth will slow down in 2019,” Levanon said. “Overall economic activity rapidly grew through the end of 2018, suggesting that employment growth will remain solid in early 2019, but as the economy slows down, job growth will also slow down later in the year. A slowdown in job growth is not unexpected in an economy that has expanded for this long and reached such a low unemployment rate.”

The Employment Trends Index is released on the Monday following the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment situation report. Last Friday’s report found the number of temp help services jobs in the US rose by 2.7% year over year in January. The number of employees hired by the temporary help industry is one of eight measures tracked in The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index.

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