The Conference Board Employment Trends Index rose to 110.37, after coming in at 109.89 in July (revised). Although the growth rate has slowed over the past two months, this marks the sixth consecutive month the index has gone up.
Only five of the eight labor market indicators positively contributed to the index’s growth in August, ordered from the highest to lowest contributor:
- Initial claims for unemployment insurance
- Industrial production
- Ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers
- Job openings
- Percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now
The remaining three indicators — number of temporary employees, real manufacturing and trade sales, and percentage of respondents who say they find “jobs hard to get” — negatively impacted the index for the month.
“We continue to monitor two trends which could put a damper on employment growth,” said Gad Levanon, Head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “First, the number of new COVID-19 infections continues to increase, holding back economic and job market recovery. Second, the labor market continues to experience historical recruiting difficulties.”
“Since COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon,” Levanon added, “a return to normal spending on, and employment in, in-person services is unlikely to happen in 2021.” He predicted another month of suboptimal job growth before labor shortages lessen, unemployment benefits end, and schools reopen. Growth should pick up speed again in the last quarter of the year.