Bloomberg News

Employment Index in U.S. Drops for Fourth Time in Five Months

September 06, 2011

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A measure of job prospects in the U.S. fell in August for a fourth time in five months, reflecting declines in consumer confidence and job openings that indicate payrolls may fail to pick up in the final months of the year.

The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index decreased 0.3 percent to 100.8 from the prior month’s revised reading of 101.0, the New York-based private research group said today. The measure was up 4.1 percent from August 2010.

Today’s figures follow a Labor Department report last week that showed payrolls were unchanged in August, the worst showing since September 2010, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent as discouraged workers left the labor force. The economy needs job growth to keep consumers spending and the economy growing.

“The decline in the index is still not as strong as it was in the months leading to previous recessions,” Gad Levanon, associate director of macroeconomic research at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “We still expect the economy to moderately add jobs in the next several months, but not fast enough to lower the unemployment rate.”

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators to forecast short-term hiring trends. On average, the gauge 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.

Part-Time Workers

An increase in the number of consumers saying jobs were hard to get in August and a rising number of part-time workers for economic reasons were among the components that contributed to the drop in the index, the Conference Board said.

The Labor Department’s payrolls report, released on Sept. 2 also showed private employers added 17,000 workers last month, fewer than the median estimate in the Bloomberg News survey.

Consumer spending climbed more than forecast in July as Americans dipped into savings to buy cars and cool their homes. Purchases rose 0.8 percent, the biggest gain since February, after a 0.1 percent decline the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed Aug. 29.

Banks have been among companies announcing the biggest dismissals. Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. lender, will eliminate about 3,500 jobs this quarter to focus “on what we can control” amid market turmoil, said Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan on Aug. 19.

--Editor: Kevin Costelloe

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Willis in Washington at bwillis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net


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