Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 12 Feb 12

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about the controversy over the HHS contraception mandate.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Economic Statistics for 9 Feb 12

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Initial claims for unemployment fell 15,000 last week to 358,000, while the 4-week average dropped 11,000 to 366,250. This is strongly positive for job growth. Or it means that, after losing 7 million jobs since 2007, we’ve pretty much fired everyone who can usefully be fired.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -41.7 from -44.8 last week.

In wholesale trade, inventories rose  a strong 1.0% in December, and a 1.3% rise in sales leaves the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.15.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 3 Feb 12

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Factory orders rose a very healthy 1.1% in December. November’s orders were also upwardly revised to a 2.2% jump.

A very strong ISM non-manufacturing report showed the index jump to 56.8—well above expectations—based on a huge jump in employment and new orders.

The Monster employment index fell to 133 in January from 140 in December.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 243,000 new net jobs were created last month, while the unemployment rate fell to 8.2%. Average hourly earnings increased 0.2%, and the average workweek rose to 34.5 hours. The new jobs came entirely from private payrolls, with private jobs increasing by 257,000. All is not quite as rosy as the headline numbers indicate, however:

  • Another 132,000 people left the labor force, as the labor force declined from 153,617,000 to 153,485,000.
  • The labor force participation rate declined to 63.4, the lowest since February, 1984.
  • The number of Americans who consider themselves employed rose to 139,944,000 from 139,869,000 last month, an increase of only 75,000. Meanwhile, the working age population rose from 239,618,00 to 424.269,000, an increase of 2,651,000.

So, some things to keep in mind might be a comparison of the peak of the last cycle’s employment, in November of 2007 to today. In making that comparison, some things become much clearer:

  • In November, 2007, 63.15% of Americans had a job. In Feburary, 2012, it was 57.76%.
  • In November, 2007, there were 147,118,000 Americans working. This month, that number was 139,944,000. That’s 7.1 million jobs that have disappeared.
  • If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was in November 2007 (66.1%), today’s unemployment rate would be 12.61%.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 2 Feb 12

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Chain store sales are coming in mixed today, with no identifiable spending or consumer trends. It’s looking like there’ll be little change to the upcoming retail sales report this month, which was disappointingly unchanged in December.

The Challenger Job Cut Report indicates that layoff announcements rose to 53,486 in January from 41,785 in December. That’s a big monthly jump, and raises warning signs about employment.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -44.8 from last month’s -46.4.

Initial claims for unemployment fell 12,000 to a lower-than-expected 367,000. the 4-week moving average posted a a 2,000 decline to 375,750.

Productivity growth in the 4th quarter slowed to a lower than expected 0.7% from 2.3% in the previous quarter. Unit labor costs rose 1.2%, compared to the previous quarter’s drop of -2.5%.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 1 Feb 12 (Update)

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that home purchase applications fell -1.7% and re-fis fell -3.6%, bringing the composite down -2.9%.

The ADP Employment Report largely met expectations, showing an increase of 170,000 new jobs for January.

UPDATE: Motor vehicle sales were released this afternoon. Vehicle sales jumped to a 14.2 million annual rate in January for a 5% gain over last month. For the first time in 9 months car sales outpaced truck sales, and were up 13% to a 7.4 million annual rate. Truck sales fell -4% to an annual 6.8 million annual rate.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 31 Jan 12

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Employment Cost Index rose 0.4% last month, 2% from last year, as wages are showing upward pressure at odds with the slow economy.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s index fell from 62.5 to 60.2 as Chicago area business conditions cooled slightly.

S&P Case-Shiller report their home price index shows continued erosion in prices, down -0.7% for the month on a seasonally adjusted basis. Remove the seasonal adjustments, and the picture is even worse, with the 20-city index down -1.3% for the month and -3.7% from last year.

The Consumer Confidence Index slid from 64.5 last month to 61.1 this month. The Conference Board says the estimate of current conditions is weak.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell to 92.4 from last month’s 99.3.

In weekly retail sales, ICSC-Goldman reports a lackluster 0.1% increase for the week, up 3.9% from last year. Redbook is also relatively muted in the January sales increase, coming in at 2% above last year.

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Dale Franks
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