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Conference Board Report Indicates Potential Slowdown In US Employment Growth Amid Economic Challenges

James King, MPA
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The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index (ETI) decreased from 112.16 in March to 111.25 in April, signaling a potential stall in job growth during the second half of 2024. This downward trend in the index, which has a history of successfully tracking employment trends, is raising concerns about the health of the U.S. economy.

In April, the unemployment rate remained at 3.9% while the number of jobs added totaled 175,000, falling short of economists’ expectations of 243,000. Additionally, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) measured a mere 1.6% in the first quarter of 2024, and inflation persisted, rising 3.5% year-over-year in March.


Will Baltrus, associate economist at The Conference Board, commented on the report’s findings, stating, “The ETI fell in April, a sign that employment growth could stall in the second half of 2024.” He noted that while the index remains above its pre-pandemic level and is still historically elevated, a slowdown in employment growth is more likely than aggregate job losses.

The combination of low growth, high unemployment and elevated inflation has led many market watchers to speculate that the U.S. economy may be experiencing stagflation. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has pushed back against claims that the economy is stalling, citing low unemployment and underlying growth in certain aspects of GDP.