Help-Wanted Index Shows Signs Of Strong Start

An increase in the Conference Board's Help-Wanted Advertising Index suggests that the U.S. labor market is off to a better start in 2005 than 2004.

The Index -- a key barometer of America's job market -- increased three points in January. The Index now stands at 41. It was 38 one year ago.

"The concern voiced by consumers is whether the pace of job growth will turn out to have been 'as good as it gets,'" says Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein. "If new jobs continue to open up, consumer expectations could turn even more positive this spring, and that could cause more people who are not working to start looking for jobs."

The New York-based Conference Board, a business research group, surveys help-wanted advertising in 51 newspapers across the U.S. every month.

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