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Job outlook continues to worsen

The Employment Trends Index points to continued and steeper job losses and rising unemployment ahead.

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By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The outlook for the nation's battered labor market continues to worsen, according to a leading business research organization.

The Conference Board's Employment Trends Index fell in June. The index, which combines eight separate readings that track the job market, has now declined in 11 of the past 12 months.

The gauge offers a reliable window on employment: Over the past 35 years, a negative reading has always predicted job losses and rising unemployment up to six months into the future.

"Most leading indicators of employment point to an even sharper deterioration in the labor market in the months ahead," said Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board. "The steep decline of the employment trends index in recent months, and the fact that its weakness is spread throughout all of its components, does not leave much room for optimism."

The Conference Board released the index publicly for the first time only a month ago, but the group has computed it going back decades.

The report follows Thursday's Labor Department reading that showed a net loss of 62,000 jobs in June, bringing first-half job losses to 438,000. The unemployment rate remained at 5.5%.

"The decline in payroll numbers somewhat understates the weakness of the labor market," said Levanon. "In addition to the jobs that were lost, the number of people who were working part-time but wanted a full-time job rose by 750,000 in the last six months."

The closely watched government readings on job losses and unemployment released Thursday are not included in the ETI, which focuses more on measures that predict employment in the future, rather than in the just completed month.  To top of page

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