U.S Employment Trends Continue Upward Track In July

The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index continued its upward climb in July, building on an increase registered in June. It now stands at 109.89, up from 108.72 in June, and represents a 5.4 percent increase from the same month in 2017. The Conference Board’s July figures coincide with the federal government’s announcement that the U.S. labor market added 157,000 jobs in the month.

“The growth in the Employment Trends Index remains strong, supported by positive contributions from all of its components,” says Gad Levanon, chief economist, North America, at The Conference Board. “We expect economic activity to remain strong in the coming months, and the rapid expansion of employment should continue despite the very tight labor market.”

While employment growth in July was a modest 157,000, the federal government’s announcement included large upward revisions of the previous two months. Levanon notes that “the overall trend remains strong.”

Expanding on that point, he adds, “Much of the strength is coming from strong job growth in blue-collar industries like manufacturing and construction. In the past 12 months, the unemployment rate for construction workers declined by 2.1 percentage points, and for transportation and production workers by 1.7 and one percentage points respectively, versus a very small decline in white-collar occupations. That is in line with wage data by occupation from the employment cost index released last week. The data tells us a story of two labor markets: significant labor shortages for blue-collar workers versus moderate tightness in white-collar jobs.”

In determining its Employment Trends Index, the Conference Board aggregates eight labor market indicators that it has found are accurate within their own areas. It notes that aggregated individual indicators into a composite index filters out “noise” to show underlying trends more clearly. All eight of the indicators made positive contributions to the index in June. From the largest positive contributor to the smallest, they are: the Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry, Industrial Production, Job Openings, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, The Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now, and the Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get.”

filed under August 2018
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