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Press Release
The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) Plummeted in March
06 April, 2020

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) Plummeted in March

COVID-19 outbreak causes historic decline in the index

 Download the National Historical Table.

The Conference Board Employment Trends Index™ (ETI) plummeted in March, following a decline in February. The index now stands at 60.39, down from 109.27 (an upward revision) in February. The index is down 45.0 percent from a year ago.

“The Employment Trends Index plummeted in March, almost entirely due to the historically large increase in initial claims for unemployment,” said Gad Levanon, Head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “This period of declining employment is historically severe but could also be historically short. The most likely scenario is that within a couple of months, most of the orders to shut down non-essential businesses and stay at home will be lifted. While many employers will continue to shed workers after that time, these job losses will be more than offset by the millions who will return to work in the reopened businesses. Nevertheless, the total number of workers is likely to remain well below pre-COVID-19 levels for the remainder of the year, and the unemployment rate will remain in double digits after peaking at 15 percent in May.”

March’s decrease was fueled by negative contributions from seven of the eight components. From the largest negative contributor to the smallest, these were: Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, the Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers, the Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry, the Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now, Job Openings, Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales, and Industrial Production.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators, each of which has proven accurate in its own area. Aggregating individual indicators into a composite index filters out “noise” to show underlying trends more clearly.

The eight labor-market indicators aggregated into the Employment Trends Index include:

  • Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get” (The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey®)
  • Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance (U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now (© National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation)
  • Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Ratio of Involuntarily Part-time to All Part-time Workers (BLS)
  • Job Openings (BLS)**
  • Industrial Production (Federal Reserve Board)*
  • Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)**

*Statistical imputation for the recent month

**Statistical imputation for two most recent months

The Conference Board publishes the Employment Trends Index monthly, at 10 a.m. ET on the Monday that follows each Friday release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation report. The technical notes to this series are available on The Conference Board website:

About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

Employment Trends Index (ETI)™ 2020 Publication Schedule  (10 AM ET)

May 11

June 8

 July 6

August 10

September 8

October 5

November 9

 December 7

For further information contact:

Carol Courter
1 212 339 0232

Joseph DiBlasi


Technical Notes
Underlying detail, diffusion indexes, components, contributions and graphs


Leading Economic Index for:

  • Australia 0.3%
  • Brazil 10.1%
  • China 1.0%
  • Euro Area 2.5%
  • France 1.2%
  • Germany 2.7%
  • Global 3.9%
  • India 18.8%
  • Japan 0.3%
  • Korea 0.3%
  • Mexico 6.0%
  • Spain 2.0%
  • U.K. 1.3%
  • U.S. 4.4%
  • International Labor Comparisons:
  • Visit ILC website
  • Productivity:
  • Visit Total Economy Database™ website
  • Global Economic Outlook:
  • Visit Global Economic Outlook website