June 24, 2004 -- The Conference Board’s Help-Wanted Advertising Index – a key barometer of America's job market – increased one point in May. The Index now stands at 39, up from 38 the previous month. The Index was 36 one year ago.
In the last three months, help-wanted advertising declined in five of the nine U.S. regions. The steepest decline occurred in the East South Central (-14.5%) region, followed by slight declines in four other regions, including the West South Central (-4.8%) East North Central (-3.3%), West North Central (-1.6%) and Mountain (-0.6%) regions. Help-wanted advertising increased moderately in four regions, including the South Atlantic (2.5%), New England (1.6%), Pacific (0.6%) and Middle Atlantic (0.6%) regions.
Says Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein: “Most indicators of hiring have slowed in recent months. Initial unemployment claims have improved much since March. Likewise, the Help-Wanted Index was at the same level in May as in March. These indicators are suggestive of a labor market continuing to improve this summer, but at a more moderate pace. That, plus higher interest rates, are likely to be the talk around backyard gatherings this upcoming July 4th weekend.”
The Conference Board surveys help-wanted advertising volume in 51 major newspapers across the country every month. Because ad volume has proven to be sensitive to labor market conditions, this measure provides a gauge of change in the local, regional and national supply of jobs.
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