Help-Wanted Rises Slightly

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(AP) Help-wanted advertising has improved slightly in the last few months, reversing a year of declines, a private research group said Thursday.

The Conference Board said its help-wanted advertising index increased one point to 40 in February from January’s 39. The index was 41 a year ago.

In a news release, the research group said that in the last three months, help-wanted ads increased in eight of the nine U.S. census regions. The largest increases occurred in the Mountain states, at 13.8%, and New England, at 12.8%.

“The national labor market has begun to improve, but the small gains only bring us back to year-ago levels,” said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board. He said consumers have grown more concerned about why job increases remain modest while the country’s economy grows.

However, he added, there is a silver lining among the data. “Incremental improvement in wanted-volume comes at the same time that layoffs, as measured by initial unemployment claims, have been edging lower.”

The Conference Board survey tracks help-wanted advertising volume in 51 major U.S. newspapers monthly. The volume of newspaper want-ads is one indication of demand for labor, although many employers also now advertise for help online.

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