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Signs of an improving job market

After a disappointing federal jobs report last Friday, two new reports show some improvement in the employment market.

The employment trends index of the Conference Board increased in November, the second consecutive monthly increase. It now stands at 99, up from 97.6 in October, and significantly above November 2009’s 89.7. The index measures a number of indicators, including job openings and unemployment-insurance claims.

“The disappointing employment numbers released last Friday are at odds with most of the leading indicators included in the employment trends index,” said Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board, a Manhattan business-research group. “While we are not expecting economic activity or employment to grow rapidly anytime soon, we do expect employment to continue to moderately increase, following the trend of recent months.”

The economy created just 39,000 jobs in November, far below the 150,000 some economists had predicted.

A new Manpower Inc. survey projects that the metro area employment market will continue to post modest gains in the first quarter of 2011; 13 percent of companies plan to increase their staffing levels then, compared with 12 percent in this year’s fourth quarter. Meanwhile, 73 percent plan to maintain their staffing levels in the 2011 first quarter, compared with 72 percent in this year’s fourth quarter.

Survey participants included companies from Long Island, New York City, northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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