The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. rose in April to 113.3, a gain of 1.6 percent. This followed a March increase of 1.3 percent and a February dip of .1 percent. This welcome gain means the index has surpassed its previous peak (January 2020), which marks a complete recovery from its contraction at the beginning of the covid pandemic.
The good news recognizes the potential for continued economic growth, as neither employment nor production have fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, The Conference Board is predicting real GDP growth of 8-9 percent in the second quarter, 6.4% year-over-year.
The Leading Economic Index is a composite average of multiple economic indicators including average weekly hours (manufacturing), average weekly claims for initial unemployment insurance, manufacturers’ new orders, consumer goods, and retail, building permits / new housing units, and more.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Advancement, the U.S. economy grew an at annualized rate of 6.4% during the first quarter, a significant gain from the previous quarter’s 4.3% increase. That is an advance report based on incomplete data; a revised report is expected in late May. The increase was spurred by an uptick in personal consumption expenditures including durable goods, non-durable goods, and services. Government spending also accelerated with additional stimulus payments and other assistance programs. The increase in consumer demand has led to supply shortages notably in the areas of lumber, steel, and chips.
Personal savings and personal disposable income both increased in Q1 compared to the previous quarter, suggesting a potential strong economic tailwind yet to come in the US.
We are seeing signs of this growth within NPAworldwide as well. The number of job openings shared by members is up significantly from pre-pandemic levels. Split placements among members have increased by more than 30% for the first four months of 2021 as compared to a year ago. Salary levels have also increased in every bracket versus 2020, except for the US $50K – $60K bracket, which was flat. We have seen the largest growth in salaries above US $100K, followed by the US $90K – $100K bracket.
Opportunities for skilled third-party recruiters remain strong as jobs continue to outpace candidate availability. Well-connected recruiters, especially those who are open to split placements, are well-positioned to capitalize on this gap.