The Conference Board Monday reported the first improvement in its Employment Trends Index in 16 months, but it tempered the encouraging news with a hard dose of reality.
The index for May rose a fraction to 89.9 from an adjusted 89.7 for April and remains substantially below the 113 reported for May 2008. Improvements were registered in four of the eight components followed by The Conference Board and, of these, three — the percentage of firms with jobs not able to fill right now, job openings and real manufacturing and trade sales — were based on estimates. The only one of the four ascendant components not based on an estimate was the “jobs hard to get” measure included in The Conference Board’s own Consumer Confidence Index. That number declined to 44.7 in May from 46.6 in April as the Consumer Confidence Index leaped to 54.9 from 40.8 in April.
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