Help-Wanted Advertising Index Unchanged

The Conference Board reports some disappointing news:

The Conference Board’s Help-Wanted Advertising Index – a key barometer of America’s job market – was unchanged in April. The Index now stands at 39. It was 38 one year ago. In the last three months, help-wanted advertising declined in seven of the nine U.S. regions. Steepest declines occurred in the South Atlantic (-12.4%), East North Central (-10.8%), and West North Central (-9.9%) regions.

Says Conference Board Economist Ken Goldstein: “The labor market indicators were soft in April. Want-ad volume was flat while the data on initial unemployment claims was essentially unchanged. These are indications that hiring intentions again turned cautious in April. The reason for caution appears straightforward. While the Coincident Economic Index continued to edge higher in April, the Leading Economic Index fell for the fourth straight month. Other economy-wide data were pointing to the possibility of the economy falling into a soft-patch this summer, for the second year in a row. If that were to develop, it would be enough under ordinary conditions to make businesses cautious with respect to adding expensive labor over the next few months.”