More softening is seen in the labor market, according to the Conference Board’s employment trends index, which slid to 105.3 in October from 107.2 in September. The September index was originally reported as 108.4.

“The sharp decline in the employment trends index in recent months suggests we will experience even greater deterioration in the labor market in the months ahead, and that the unemployment rate will continue to rise sharply well into 2009,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board. “The economic developments of the last two months made it clear to businesses that demand for goods and services in the U.S. is declining, and businesses are responding by aggressively slashing their payrolls. Unfortunately, it seems this environment will persist for several more quarters and business leaders will continue reducing their workforce.”

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