The Conference Board Employment Trends Index dropped from 118.71 in June (revised) to 117.63 in July, signaling slower job gains in the months ahead. “This would bring the labor market in line with the rest of the economy, where economic activity has already been slowing,” said Frank Steemers, Senior Economist at The Conference Board.

Negative contributions from six of the eight labor market indicators drove the index’s decrease over the month, ordered from the biggest negative contributor to the smallest: 

  • Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance
  • Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers
  • Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get”
  • Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales
  • Percentage of Firms with Jobs Not Able to Fill Right Now
  • Industrial Production

The index has been trending downward since March 2022, Steemers added, and a recession before the end of the year or early next year is becoming more likely. The pressure on businesses to find and keep employees could lessen during this time, and some months of negative job growth may be on the horizon. 

“However,” Steemers said, “The Conference Board expects the unemployment rate — just 3.5 percent as of July 2022 — to remain below 4.5 percent in 2023.” 

2022 State of Staffing