The Conference Board today reported that its index measuring the volume of job advertisements in major U.S. newspapers dropped two points in August, marking the fourth straight month of declines.

The organization’s Help-Wanted Advertising Index now stands at 23, down from 25 in July and 29 a year ago. In the last three months, help-wanted advertising declined in all nine U.S. regions, with the largest declines occurring in the New England (-25.4 percent), South Atlantic (-18.4 percent) and Middle Atlantic (-16.9 percent) regions.

“The slump in home buying and building, higher gas prices and grocery prices, and credit availability questions have combined to weaken the overall economy, drain consumer confidence, and slow the labor market,” Ken Goldstein, labor economist at The Conference Board, said in a statement. “Until August, the labor market held up surprisingly well. But the forward indicators of labor market activity are consistent with slow growth. August then may have been an off month with respect to job growth. The data suggest slow job growth ahead, but growth nonetheless. The labor market is not grinding to a halt.”

In August, there were 4.1 million online advertised job vacancies, an increase of 20,600, or 0.5 percent, from the July level, according to The Conference Board Help-Wanted OnLine Data Series. There were 2.65 advertised vacancies online for every 100 persons in the labor force in August.

The Conference Board surveys help-wanted print advertising volume in 51 major newspapers across the country every month. Because ad volume has proven to be sensitive to labor market conditions, this measure provides a gauge of change in the local, regional and national supply of jobs.

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