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Early signs of employer confidence   

Whether professional job gains continue depends, in large measure, on employer confidence. There are some early signs this confidence may be returning. A survey by Chief Executive magazine found that 14% of CEOs plan to increase hiring over the next quarter, up from 9% in March. The uptick follows three straight months of decline.

A monthly employment index by Internet jobs company Monster Worldwide Inc jumped last month to 174, the sharpest monthly gain in over a year. Online technology job postings rose, Monster said, as did postings by the finance and insurance sector, suggesting some stabilization, despite widely publicized layoffs.

Still, it is too soon to talk about a reversal in hiring, given sluggish economic growth and continued caution among employers. A job opening that would be filled in 60 days six months ago, now takes 90 days or longer. They do have open positions, but they're hesitating until they get more clarity about the economy. The real evidence of a wider labor market recovery will come when retail and manufacturing employers start consistently adding jobs, he said, since these are the most economically- sensitive sectors.

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