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The Conference Board Employment Trends Index Increases in April

Conference Board News Release (05/05/14)

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index increased in April. The index now stands at 118.00, up from 117.77 (an upward revision) in March. This represents a 5.5% gain in the ETI compared with a year ago.

“April’s increase in the Employment Trends Index, and continued improvement in recent months, is signaling solid job growth through the summer,” says Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at the Conference Board. “Despite the disappointing [gross domestic product] figure for the first quarter, job growth remains robust and when coupled with the massive retirement of Baby Boomers will result in a continued rapid decline in the unemployment rate.”

April’s increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from five of its eight components. In order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now, number of temporary employees, industrial production, job openings, and initial claims for unemployment insurance.

Wage Pressure Begins to Build

Wall Street Journal (05/04/14) Theo Francis

Despite sluggish growth at the national level, wages are on the rise at more than two dozen large companies. Private-sector nonfarm hourly wages rose 1.9% in April from the same time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

A few companies stand to gain from wage increases. Staffing firm Robert Half International Inc. earns more when the temporary employees it places are paid more. “We saw rising pay rates for our temporary staff, which, in turn, meant rising bill rates,” chief financial officer M. Keith Waddell told investors and analysts. “So we’re very encouraged that we’re starting to see some wage inflation, which is usually indicative as you’re beginning to start the growth part of a cycle in earnest.”

Yellen’s Fed Resigned to Diminished Growth Expectations

Bloomberg (05/02/14) Rich Miller

Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and colleagues have moved away from stressing the importance of economic growth quickening from the 2.0% to 2.5% pace it has maintained since the end of the recession to emphasizing the need to prevent the expansion from faltering. Federal Open Market Committee members expect gross domestic product to rise to 2.8% to 3.0% this year and 3.0% to 3.2% next year, and if this does not occur, policymakers likely will proceed with cuts in asset purchases instead of rushing out more stimulus.

Observers believe this means the central bank will begin raising rates in the second half of 2015, with increases coming sooner if economic performance exceeds expectations. The ongoing decline in the unemployment rate and rising payrolls have prompted FOMC policymakers to reduce their estimates of the economy’s potential growth rate from between 2.5% and 2.8% in April 2011 to between 2.2% and 2.3% in March.

Survey Extended—How Is Your Firm Closing the Skills Gap?

Is your firm working with clients to address skills gap challenges? Do you have success stories resulting from your initiatives to train and hire candidates who have been unemployed for several months?

Let the ASA skills gap task force know—participate in this five-question survey about the staffing industry’s efforts to bridge the skills gap. The survey has been extended to May 14. Everyone who completes the survey will receive an executive summary of the findings. All responses will be kept confidential.

Free ASAPro Webinar Tomorrow—Improving Client Relationships

Don’t miss tomorrow’s ASAPro webinar “What Every Staffing Professional Should Know About Earning Commitments From Clients,” 3–4 p.m. Eastern time. Learn how to bring clients through the sales process and take your client relationships to the next level.

All ASAPro webinars are free for ASA members, and most qualify for continuing education hours toward ASA certification renewal. To learn more and to register, visit