Jobs outlook slowly improves

Last month’s jobs report was disappointing, but far from terrible. Now there’s word that the jobs picture may be brightening soon.

The economy added 151,000 jobs in January, which was down a lot following the 292,000 added in December 2015 and the 252,000 added in November 2015.

Economists noted that the turnout in January was below expectations but that the fundamentals remain strong.

The Conference Board has released data that seems to confirm this analysis: The Board’s Employment Trends Index (ETI) increased in January, but 1.9 percent vs. December 2015. This index compiles data on eight sources that indicate where the trend is moving with jobs.

According to The Conference Board, January’s increase in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from five of those eight components. These included gains in the percentage of respondents who say they find jobs “hard to get,” industrial production, real manufacturing and trade sales, percentage of firms with positions not able to fill and the ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers.

With unemployment down below 5 percent and these readings favoring continued growth in employment, there’s reason for optimism.

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