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More signs of recovering job market

In the wake of federal data showing better-than-expected private-sector job numbers last week, two reports this week also indicate an employment market on the mend, if only slowly.

TheConference Board reports that its employment trends index rose to 98.1 in October, up from September’s 97.3. The latest reading is up 10 points from October 2009.

“The improvement in ... October suggests that negative job growth in the next quarter or two is very unlikely,” said Gad Levanon, a Conference Board economist. “However, we forecast sluggish economic activity until mid-2011, at the earliest.”

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Chicago career-services firm, said the holiday hiring has gotten off to its “strongest” start since 2006. It noted that the federal jobs report for October, when holiday hiring kicks off, shows that the number of retail jobs was up by 151,000, compared with September. Those numbers aren’t seasonally adjusted to account for monthly swings.

“This is a good sign that retailers feel more optimistic this year,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Even if November and December hiring remains flat from a year ago, seasonal job growth will top 600,000 for the first time since 2007.”

A state Labor Department report scheduled for release on Thursday will provide a look at Long Island’s job market for October. In September, Long Island had 5,600 more jobs than in September 2009, a marked slowdown in job growth. The retail sector had 2,600 more jobs in September than it had the year before.


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