The Conference Board Employment Trends Index dropped slightly to 117.62 in January, down from 117.94 in December (an upward revision from the 116.63 previously reported). Despite impacts from the pandemic, the latest numbers suggest that job growth is holding steady and will continue in the coming months.
The index’s decline for the month stemmed from negative contributions from three of the eight labor market indicators, ordered from the greatest contributor to the least — initial claims for unemployment insurance, the percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now, and job openings.
“Employers appear to be managing these pandemic disruptions better, even as many workers called in sick or had to quarantine in January,” said Frank Steemers, Senior Economist at The Conference Board. But employers, especially those in manual labor and services, will likely continue to face hiring and retention challenges. “While an improving outlook for hiring and wages may attract some additional workers back to the labor market,” Steemers added, “employers may increasingly need to consider automating tasks or using different hiring strategies to help meet labor demands.”