10/09/2013 10:08 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Help-wanted index points to moderate job gains last month: Conference Board

OTTAWA - The Conference Board says there's been an uptick in its help-wanted index that points to a moderate increase in job activity in Canada last month.

The think-tank says the index climbed 10 percentage points in August, suggesting that Friday's key labour market report from Statistics Canada will show a gain of about 8,500 jobs created in September.

That is close to the consensus of economists expectations for the month.

The Conference Board says a 10-point gain in the index is significant, but only serves to offset the previous month's drop and is still 10 points below the May level.

Employment growth is therefore still expected to be moderate in the coming months, it says.

The index has been a relatively reliable predictor of the trend in employment activity in Canada over the past year, although the monthly Statistics Canada numbers have tended to be more volatile.

For August, the federal agency reported an oversized gain of 59,000 jobs, but that followed an almost equally large drop of 39,000 the previous month.

Over the past half year, however, job gains have averaged about 12,000 a month, in line with the Conference Board index of moderate growth.