The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index rose 1.7% to 91.8 in December, up from a revised 1.7% jump to 90.3 in October originally reported as a 1.8% increase to 90.8, and is down 5.2% from a year ago, the group announced yesterday.

“Given the sharp and widespread improvement in the Employment Trends Index in recent months, it is very likely that we will see at least some job growth during the first quarter,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board. “Despite the disappointing job report last Friday, the relatively strong economic recovery in the second half of 2009 suggests that the employment trend should reach a turning point in the very near future.”

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