© 2008 The Conference Board. All rights reserved.
Gad Levanon, Senior Economist, The Conference Board
The Conference Board Employment Trends Index (ETI)™
The Conference Board produces respected indexes of economic indicators like the
Leading Economic IndexTM (LEI) and Coincident Economic IndexTM (CEI), and the Consumer
Confidence IndexTM, the CEO Confidence Measure as well as individual indicators like the
Help-Wanted Online Data Series (HWOL)TM. On June 9, 2008, The Conference Board
launched the Employment Trends Index (ETI)™, the only publicly available leading composite
index for employment.
The Employment Trends Index (ETI)™ offers a short-term, forward look at employment
on its own. It gives economists and investors a new forecasting tool. It also helps business
executives sharpen their short- to medium-term hiring and compensation planning.
Employment is a critical part of the overall economic picture (the monthly payroll
employment series from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a component of the CEI.
But employment sometimes behaves very differently from the more general economic activity
measured by the CEI or GDP. For example, economic activity started picking up at the end of
2001, while employment kept falling until the middle of 2003. And employment has fallen since
the start of 2008, while some measures of economic activity, GDP in particular, have yet to
As a composite index, the Employment Trends Index (ETI)™ aggregates eight labor-
market indicators from different sources, each of which has proven accurate in its own area.
The main benefit of looking at a composite index is that individual indicators sometimes show
erratic movements from month to month that do not necessarily reflect underlying trends. This
can happen, for example, because of changes in seasonal patterns, inaccuracies due to small
samples, or one-off events. Aggregating a group of individual indicators, filters out this so-
called “noise” to see the u