Index for Help-Wanted Ads Rises to 138 for December

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) _ In another sign of strength in the economy, newspapers ran more help-wanted ads in December than the previous month, a research group reported Thursday.

The seasonally adjusted help-wanted advertising index compiled by the Conference Board rose to 138 in December from 134 a month earlier. It registered 117 a year earlier.

"Employers are still busy seeking qualified job applicants," said Conference Board economist Kenneth Goldstein. "The strong rise in want-ad volume in December suggests that hiring will continue to be strong through the early months of 1995."

Advertising volume is sensitive to labor market conditions so the Conference Board's help-wanted index has come to be regarded as a useful tool for gauging the local, regional and national supply of jobs and to some extent the health of the economy.

The rise in newspaper advertising complements other recent signs of strength in the economy despite a campaign by the Federal Reserve to remove some of the vigor. The Fed raised interest rates again Wednesday in its effort to forestall inflation, the seventh increase in a year.

But Goldstein said that the economy could grow by as much this year as it did in 1994.

He predicted consumer spending should continue rising by 3 percent annual rate or more, even though higher interest rates seem to be capping big ticket purchases, such as home and auto sales. …