A gauge of the strength of the U.S. job market fell slightly in August and pointed to a flat employment market for the rest of the year, a research group said on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said its Employment Trends Index inched lower to 88.1 in August from a revised 88.2 in July, originally reported at 88.3.

The index is now down 18.5 percent from a year ago, the Conference Board added.

The flatness of the Employment Trends Index in recent months suggests that we won't see job growth until the end of the year, said Gad Levanon, economist at the Conference Board.

The fact that the index cannot get off the ground is another sign of a weak recovery, perhaps a jobless one.

Government data on Friday showed U.S. job losses fell to their lowest level in a year last month, but the unemployment rate jumped to a 26-year high, painting a mixed picture of an economic recovery hindered by weakness in the labor market.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)