For the second consecutive month, the official U.S. employment report noted a sharp downturn in jobs added to the economy. In 2013, the economy added an average 194,000 jobs per month. But December's job total of 75,000 and January's 113,000 additional jobs fell far short of the average and both came in well short of expectations.
On the Monday following an Employment Situation report, the Conference Board releases its analysis, including an index made up of eight components used to asses the labor market.
In January, the index went up.
So did the "quit rate" which measures how many workers voluntarily left their jobs, a sign of health given most of them leave because they have been hired elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Labor Department said the quit rate rose to 1.8 percent in November, a 5 1/2-year high.
The low for the recovery was in September 2009, when the quit rate was 1.2 percent.
The data suggest workers are being promoted or taking matters into their own hands and finding a better situation with a new employer.
"Career Development and wage growth often involve switching employers to move up a job ladder," Steven Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, told the Journal.
"Despite weak jobs reports in December and January, the Employment Trends Index is not signaling a slowdown in employment growth," said Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at the Conference Board.
"We expect solid job growth and rapid declines in the unemployment rate to continue in the coming months," Levanon said in a statement.
The Conference Board said the Employment Trends Index rose from 115.62 in December to 116.61.
The increase came about with positive contributions from six of the eight component indexes that make up the trends index, the research firm said.
The largest contribution was a measure of the ratio of involuntary, part-time to all part-time workers. That was followed by positive movement in initial claims for unemployment benefits, industrial production, manufacturing and trade sales adjusted for inflation, the number of temporary employees and a survey measuring respondent answers to the question are jobs "hard to get."
The trends index is also influenced by the number of job openings, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the percentage of firms with positions unfilled, as reported by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation.