Consumer Spending Rebound Unlikely as Employment Index Drops

NEW YORK—The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index fell sharply in February and landed at 91.0, a decrease of 3.2% from the January figure of 94.0.

The index is down 21.7% from one year ago.

“Over the past year, the Employment Trends Index has declined faster than at any other time in its 35-year history, with the most severe decreases taking place since the fall,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board. “As job losses persist, the drop in overall earnings makes a rebound in consumer spending unlikely for the next few months. The decline in employment will only moderate once companies anticipate some revival in domestic and global economic activity.”

The 19-month-long decline in the Employment Trends Index is seen in all eight of its components, most notably over the past six months in temporary and part-time workers.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight indicators: percentage of respondents who say jobs are “hard to get,” initial claims for unemployment insurance, percentage of firms with positions not able to fill, number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry, part-time workers for economic reasons, job openings, industrial production and real manufacturing and trade sales.

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