Employment Index Worst in 35 Years

NEW YORK—The labor market landscape continues to worsen, deteriorating at a rate not seen in 35 years, according to a report released on Monday.

The Conference Board, a research firm, said that its January employment trends index fell by 1% from the previous month to a reading of 96.6 from December’s revised 97.5 reading. The index was down an alarming 18.6% from January a year ago.

“The employment index has recently been declining faster than at any time since the 1974 recession,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at The Conference Board. “Such declines suggest considerable job losses will persist for several more months. It is becoming clearer that the continued worsening economic conditions are forcing many companies to make further downward adjustments to their workforce.”

The Conference Board’s report follows a recent release by the government of alarming hiring data for January. The economy lost jobs at the fastest rate since the end of 1974, shedding 598,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate rose to 7.6%. The losses were spread broadly across the economy and most analysts see no end soon to the hemorrhaging.

The Conference Board’s index is an aggregate of eight labor-market indicators, including jobless claims, job openings data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and industrial production figures from the Federal Reserve. It seeks to facilitate forecasts for employment, unemployment and wages by filtering out the noise and volatility of monthly labor market indicators and showing underlying trends more clearly.

The employment trends index is published every Monday following the government’s monthly jobs report.

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