Help-Wanted Index Up

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By: E&P Staff

The Conference Board’s help-wanted indexed gained one point for the month of October to 37. It was at 36 one year ago.

“Despite the outsized job gain in October, the measure of labor demand going forward remains relatively flat, as does the number signing up for their unemployment checks,” said Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board, in a statement.

“Both initial jobless claims and want-ad volume have remained flat since early 2004. Except for two outbursts of job growth (one in the spring and one in October) the lack of steady improvement in employment has weakened consumer confidence, especially with respect to where the labor market is going in the next six months. Moreover, with the leading economic index declining for five straight months, prospects are that the economy will be growing too slowly to allow the labor market more than an occasional good month in the first half of 2005,” he said.

The nonprofit research organization reported that the help-wanted index dropped in six of the nine U.S. regions. The largest declines occurred in the Mountain region, down 7.2%, East North Central region, down 5.9%, and South Atlantic region, down 5.3%. Increases occurred in the New England region, up 13.1%, West South Central region, up 5.5%, and East South Central region up 1.6%.

The Conference Board surveys help-wanted advertising volume in 51 major U.S. newspapers every month.

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