The Conference Board is predicting that the monthly job losses that have hammered U.S. workers since January 2008 will end early next year.
The Board’s Employment Trends Index rose for the second consecutive month in October, and is now at 89.3, up 0.7 percent from the revised September figure. It’s still down significantly from a year ago, when the index was 104.5.
The improvement, said Conference Board senior economist Gad Levanon, foreshadows an end to job loss, but not an immediate, strong, uptick in hiring.
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“The Employment Trends Index has likely turned a corner in September, and the historical relationship between the index and employment suggests that job losses will end in early 2010,” said Levanon. “While layoffs have certainly declined in recent months, we still expect to see employers adding hours to their existing workforce before hiring will strongly increase.”
Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which issued its October jobs report on Friday, show little change in workers’ hours over the past several months. Since June, the average number of hours worked weekly in the private sector has been steady at 33. In the manufacturing sector, weekly hours have ticked up by 30 minutes since June and now stand at 40 hours a week on average, with 3.2 hours of overtime work weekly, an improvement over June’s 2.8 hours.