Employment picked up in January, after easing slightly in December. The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index increased last month to 130.04, up from 129.73 in December. January’s figure represents a 2.4-percent gain in the index compared to a year ago.

“The continued growth in the Employment Trends Index suggests that job growth will remain solid and perhaps even accelerate in early 2017,” says Gad Levanon, chief economist, North America, at The Conference Board. “In both business confidence surveys and hard data, it appears that businesses are becoming more optimistic and are more willing to expand their workforce.”

In calculating its Employment Trends Index, The Conference Board aggregates eight labor-market indicators that it considers accurate in their own areas. By aggregating individual indicators into a composite index, the Board filters out “noise,” revealing underlying trends more clearly. The indicators come from the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Reserve Board and other sources.

The Conference Board attributes January’s improvement to positive contributions from six of the eight components. In order from the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were: Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get,” Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance, Percentage of Firms With Positions Not Able to Fill Right Now, Industrial Production, Number of Employees Hired by the Temporary-Help Industry, and Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales.