NEW YORK – The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index (ETI) grew to 105.81 in January from an upwardly revised 105.04 in December, originally reported as 104.32, and is up 5.9% from a year ago, the group announced Monday.

"The Employment Trends Index has been improving rapidly for four straight months, suggesting somewhat more robust job growth is likely to continue in this quarter," said Gad Levanon, Associate Director, Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board. "Beyond that we still remain cautious. We expect sluggish growth in economic activity in the first half of 2012 and therefore we do not foresee the strengthening of the labor market to be sustained in the second quarter of 2012."

The increase in the ETI, was driven by positive contributions from half of the eight components. The improving indicators include percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now, number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry, industrial production, and real manufacturing and trade sales.

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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