All employment components of the index were up, with roughly one business in four adding a fresh employee. Though that increase is fairly small in itself, the figure assumes a much greater importance when judged against the recent trend: Over the past 33 months, job growth has been positive in only 7 of them. The number of businesses planning to increase total employment also rose, in this case by 2 points. Says Dunkelberg: "Owners say, contrary to popular opinion, jobs are being created."
October's upbeat news held true for sales as well, with 41% of survey respondents expecting to move more goods and services. By contrast, only 24% of respondents expect to see volume decline. The earnings trends, though still in negative territory, also showed some improvement, rising 3 basis points. Based on the survey results, Dunkelberg predicts the fourth quarter will see an unemployment rate of 6.3%, real GDP growth of 5.4% and CPI inflation at 1.5%. If those figures materialize, it should be a very merry holiday season. By Edward Popper in New York