The Conference Board’s employment trends index grew to 104.32 in December from 103.64 in November, and is up 4.7% from a year ago, the group announced Monday.

“Job growth is picking up some steam in the U.S.,” said Gad Levanon, associate director of macroeconomic research at the board. “The employment trends index has been signaling this growth for three straight months now.”

“However, last Friday’s employment data — with a reported gain of 200,000 jobs in December — likely overstates the trend,” he said. “We don’t expect overall economic activity to grow fast enough to sustain such rapid job gains throughout the first half of 2012.”

The increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from six of the eight components.

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