The Conference Board Employment Trends Index increased 0.66 percent during December to 104.32, up from the revised figure of 103.64 in November. The December figure also is up 4.7 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

“Job growth is picking up some steam in the U.S.,” said Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at The Conference Board. “The Employment Trends Index has been signaling this growth for three straight months now. However, last Friday’s employment data — with a reported gain of 200,000 jobs in December — likely overstates the trend. We don’t expect overall economic activity to grow fast enough to sustain such rapid job gains throughout the first half of 2012.” This month’s strength in the ETI was driven by positive contributions from six ¬†of the eight components. The improving indicators include “Jobs Hard to Get” responses from The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey, Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Part-Time Workers for Economic Reasons, Job Openings, Industrial Production, and Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales.

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