April ETI suggests continuing job growth ahead; 3.5% jobless rate

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The Conference Board's Employment Trends Index (ETI) rose to 108.08 in April from a downwardly revised 107.37 in March, first reported as 107.72, and is up 4.9% from a year ago, the group announced Monday.

The base year of the composite index is 2016=100.

"In recent months, the Employment Trends Index continued to improve, signaling that employment growth will remain solid through the summer," said Gad Levanon, chief economist, North America, at The Conference Board. "With the economy growing well above trend, and the working-age population barely growing at all, we expect the labor market to significantly tighten in the coming year. At 3.9 percent, the unemployment rate is historically low, and we expect it to be around 3.5 percent a year from now."

The increasing indicators — from the largest contributor to the smallest — were: industrial production, initial claims for unemployment insurance, percentage of respondents who say they find “jobs hard to get,” job openings, real manufacturing and trade sales, number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry, and ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers, according to the Conference Board.

The ETI aggregates eight labor-market indicators, each of which has proven accurate in its own area. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out so-called "noise" to show underlying trends more clearly.

The eight labor-market indicators aggregated into the ETI include: Percentage of respondents who say they find "Jobs Hard to Get" (The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey); Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance (U.S. Department of Labor); Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now (National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation); Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics); Part-time Workers for Economic Reasons (BLS); Job Openings (BLS); Industrial Production (Federal Reserve Board); and Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

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Economic indicators