Employment index worst in 35 years

Business research firm says index of government and independent labor market studies shows fastest decline in employment measure since 1974.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Labor market indicators are tumbling at a rate not seen in 35 years, according to a report released Monday.

The Conference Board, a business research firm, said its January employment trends index fell 1% since December and 18.6% since January 2008 - the fastest decline since the 1974 recession.

"Such declines suggest considerable job losses will persist for several more months," said Gad Levanon, senior economist at the Conference Board. "It is becoming clearer that the continued worsening economic conditions are forcing many companies to make further downward adjustments to their workforce."

The firm's index has dropped for 18-straight months. The index is an aggregate of eight measures of employment, including several government labor indicators and independent employer surveys.

Last month, the Conference Board reported that the economy could lose 2 million more jobs in 2009 after shedding 3 million jobs last year. The Labor Department reported on Friday that employers slashed 598,000 jobs in January - the single highest monthly job-loss total since December 1974. To top of page

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