Help-Wanted Index Rises, But Jobs Likely To Lag Into 2005

By John S. McClenahen The Conference Board's Help-Wanted Advertising Index increased one point in October, the latest month for which data are available. It now stands at 37, the same as in August and up from 36 in September, says the New York-based business research group. However, Ken Goldstein, a Conference Board economist, warns against reading too much into the statistic. " . . . The measure of labor demand going forward remains relatively flat, as does the number [of workers] signing up for their unemployment checks," he says. "Moreover, with the [Conference Board's] Leading Economic Index declining for five straight months, prospects are that the economy will be growing too slowly to allow the labor market more than an occasional good month in the first half of 2005." The monthly help-wanted index is based on a survey of advertising in 51 major U.S. newspapers.

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