One leading indicator of an area's prevailing business climate is newspaper help-wanted advertising.

The Conference Board, a nonprofit business research association in New York City, recognizes the diagnostic value of help-wanted advertising and publishes a monthly index for its members. The index shows the volume of classified advertising in 51 major newspapers.

Even if you aren't privy to the Conference Board's indexed figures (minimum annual board membership is $1,500), you can get a good idea of general business conditions in any city by monitoring types and numbers of ads that appear in the major daily newspapers over a four-to-six-week period.

Source: Herbert Imhoff, General Employment Enterprises, 150 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606; (312) 977-9300.