Free Markets, Free People

Economic statistics


Economic Statistics for 4 May 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The Monster employment index rose three points in April to 146.

The headline numbers of the Employment Situation were that 120,000 net new jobs were created in April, well below expectations of 165,000 jobs. Added to that weak report were that both weekly hours and hourly wages were unchanged for the month, indicating no serious increase in pressure for hiring or demand for labor. (Well, actually, hourly earnings rose 1¢. Meh.) The unemployment rate, however, declined by 0.1% to 8.1%, which is anything but a good sign. That’s because, in the last month, the labor force again shrank from 154,707,000 in March to 154,365,000 in April, as 342,000 workers left the labor force. Likewise, the labor force participation rate declined to 63.6%, the lowest since December, 1981. Additionally, 141,865,000 people were employed in April, down from 142,034,000 in March, a decline of 169,000 in the number of people employed. So, once again the "decline" in the unemployment rate is nothing more than a decline in the labor force that is faster than the decline in employment. The headline number covers a lot of ugly details in the "A" tables of the report. As always, I’d point out that, if the labor force participation rate were at the historical average of 66.2%, the actual unemployment rate for April would be 11.73%, up from 11.56% in March. Overall, it’s a pretty negative report.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 3 May 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Initial claims for unemployment fell 27,000 to a much lower-than-expected level of 365,000.

Nonfarm productivity fell -0.5% in the first quarter on slower output and more hours worked. Unit labor costs rose 2.0% for the quarter.

The ISM’s non-manufacturing composite index slowed to 53.5 from 56.0 in March.

Chain stores are reporting their sales today. In general, sales have been solid, and some retailers are raising earning guidance as a result.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -37.6 from -35.8 the prior week.

The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows the layoff count rose to 40,559 in April from 37,880 in March and 36,490 last year.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 2 May 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The MBA reports mortgage applications rose 0.1% last week, with purchases increasing 2.9%, and re-fis falling -0.7%.

The ADP Employment Report is disappointing. ADP estimates that April private payrolls rose by only 119,000, which means Friday’s employment report may be…not good.

Factory orders fell unusually sharply in March, falling -1.5%, down from a Feb increase of 1.3%. Factory orders are pretty volatile month-to-month, but this is an especially big swing.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 1 May 12 (Updated)

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Despite the general indications that the economy is slowing, the ISM Mfg Index rose to 54.8 from 53.4 in April.

ICSC-Goldman reports that bad weather dragged retail sales down -0.3% for the week, but up 4.2% year over year. Redbook is even worse, showing a steep y/y slowdown to 2.9%.

March construction spending was unexpectedly poor, rising only 0.1% over February, and 6% over 2010.

US auto sales for April came in at a 14.4 million annual rate, unchanged from the rate in March.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 30 Apr 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Personal income rose 0.4% in March, while personal spending rose 0.3%. The PCE Price index, an inflation measure, rose 0.2%. One a year over year basis, personal income rose 3.2%, personal spending rose 4.0%, and the PCE Price index rose 2.1%.

The Dallas Fed Mfg Survey shows slowing growth, with the business activity index falling to -3.4, while the production index fell to 5.6.

The Chicago PMI shows growing business activity in the Chicago Area, with the Business Barometer Index at 65.2. This report is widely seen as a precursor to the national PMI due out tomorrow, but there is often substantial divergence between the Chicago and nationwide reports.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 27 Apr 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The Commerce Department’s initial estimate of 2012 first quarter GDP is a below-trend—and lower than expected—2.2% annualized rate of GDP growth, down sharply from the 4Q 2011 rate of 3.0%. The GDP price index rose 1.5%. The GDP decline is mainly due to a 3% drop in government purchases. Strength was largely in personal consumption expenditures, which rose 2.9%.

Consumer sentiment is inching up, with the index rising to 76.4 for the month.

The Employment Cost Index rose 0.4% last quarter, mainly due to wage increases, though the increase is down from last quarter’s 0.5%. Year over year, the ECI is up 1.9%.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 26 Apr 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Initial unemployment claims were 388,000 in the latest week. Last week’s number was revised upwards again, this time by 3,000 to 189,000. The 4-week moving average rose by 6,250 to 381,750. Analysts were expecting only 375,000 claims this week, so the number was well above expectations.

Growth eased in the Kansas City Fed district over the last month, as the Manufacturing Index fell to 3 from last month’s 9.

In a more positive sign for the economy, the pending home sales index rose 4.1% to 101.4.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -35.8 in the last week from -31.4 the previous week.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index shows an overall weakening in the economy, falling to -0.29. The 3-month moving average fell to 0.05.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 24 Apr 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Redbook is disappointing today, showing same-store, year-over-year retail sales up only 2.7%. In contrast to Redbook, ICSC-Goldman shows a 0.8% increase in sales over last week, with the year over rate rate up 3.6%.

New homes in March were sold at a 328,000 unit annual rate. This was slightly less than expected but was offset by large upward revisions to prior months.

The Case-Shiller Home Price composite 20 city index rose 0.2% last month, following a revised 0.1% dip the prior month. Home prices keep bouncing along the bottom. Meanwhile, the FHFA reports house prices in February rose 0.3%, following a 0.4% decline in January.

The Consumer Confidence Index fell one full point in April, to 69.2, mainly on falling income expectations.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index is down a sizable 3.9 points this month to 87.7, indicating falling confidence among institutional investors.

While manufacturing has been weakening according to other data, the Richmond Fed’s Manufacturing Index rose 7 points to 14.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 19 Apr 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Initial jobless claims were 386,000 last week, while the previous week’s claims were revised sharply upwards to 388,000. The four-week moving average of 374,750 is the highest since January.

The index of Leading Indicators rose 0.3% in March, a growth rate that could best be described as sustainable, though not robust.

Manufacturing growth slowed slightly in the Philadelphia Fed district, as the Fed Survey slipped to 8.5 from last month’s 12.5.

Existing home sales were worse than expected for March, with sales down -2.6% to a 4.48M annual rate. Sales are hampered by tight credit and a still sluggish labor market.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -31.4, tying the best reading since March, 2008.

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Dale Franks
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