U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

August 17, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity edged slightly higher in August, as the headline index fell 13.5 points to 3.7. The new orders index fell 15.6 points to -1.7, the shipments index fell 11.8 points to 6.7, and the index for the number of employees rose 2.0 points to 2.4. NY Fed Report

The NAHB Housing Market Index rose 6 points to 78 in August – its highest reading in the 35-year history of the series. NAHB reports that low interest rates and a shift to the suburbs is sustaining demand for single-family homes, but they caution that increasing lumber prices could slow the momentum. NAHB Report

U.S. News

The New York Times reports that cities across the country could face a reduction in services as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on budgets, particularly in cities that rely heavily on tourism, sales tax, and state aid to keep their operations running. These budget shortfalls have the potential to widen disparities between cities, as was the case with the Great Recession, unless Congress and the White House can reach an agreement on a relief package that includes aid to state and local governments. NYT

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

August 14, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Retail sales rose 1.2% in July, up 2.7% from a year ago. Core sales – which exclude autos, gasoline, building materials, and food services – increased 1.4%. Census Bureau Report

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased 7.3% in Q2 and rose 2.2% compared to the previous year. Hours worked decreased 13.7% and unit labor costs increased 12.2%. BLS Report

Industrial production increased 3.0% in July but is down 8.2% year-over-year. Capacity utilization increased 2.1 points to 70.6. Fed Report

Business inventories fell 1.1% in June and have decreased 5.8% since June of last year. Manufacturers’ sales increased 9.8% in June but declined 7.1% compared to year-ago levels. Census Bureau Report

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index increased 0.3 point to 72.8 in the preliminary August reading and is down 17 points from August of last year. The Index of Consumer Expectations fell 0.4 point to 66.5, while the Current Economic Conditions Index fell 0.3 point to 82.5. University of Michigan

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

August 13, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Initial jobless claims fell 228,000 to 963,000 last week. The four-week moving average fell 86,250 to 1,252,750. DOL Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that the International Energy Agency forecasts a deeper contraction in global oil demand in 2020 than previously projected, as persistently high coronavirus cases have thwarted the recovery in transport activity. Though prices for crude oil have increased significantly from April lows, they may fall again as production cuts soften and supply levels increase. WSJ

Bloomberg reports that despite a strong rebound thus far in the U.S. auto industry, foot traffic data from auto-making facilities suggests that the recovery may be difficult to sustain given social distancing protocols and high levels of worker absenteeism. While some automakers note that the number of people in their plants may not correlate with production, other manufacturers view this as an indication that operations will not return to normal for some time. Bloomberg

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

August 12, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

Consumer prices increased 0.6% in July (up 1.0% from a year ago) after rising 0.6% in June. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.6% in July – the largest increase since January 1991 – and is up 1.6% from last year. BLS Report

U.S. News

The Wall Street Journal reports that spending cuts by state and local governments are putting strain on the U.S. economic recovery as Congress debates how much federal aid to provide. Without additional aid, state and local budget shortfalls could reach an estimated $500 billion over the next two fiscal years, thwarting economic growth and threatening essential services. WSJ

Bloomberg reports that filings for IRS Employer Identification Numbers have surged in recent weeks, signaling that more and more Americans are opting to become self-employed as job prospects amid the pandemic remain weak. Recessions often lead to an increase in self-employment, though the current pace of new business filings has far surpassed that of the Great Recession. Bloomberg

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

August 11, 2020

U.S. Economic Indicators

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index declined 1.8 points to 98.8 in July as four components improved, five weakened, and one was unchanged. Plans to increase employment and make capital outlays improved, while the economic outlook and sales expectations declined. NFIB Report

The headline Producer Price Index (“PPI”) for final demand rose 0.6% in July but is down 0.4% year-over-year. The core – which removes the volatile prices of food, energy, and trade services – rose 0.3% in July and is up 0.1% from a year ago, the first improvement after three consecutive 12-month declines. BLS Report

U.S. News

The Financial Times reports that signs of weakness are emerging in the U.S. rental market even though renters have largely kept up with their August payments. The proportion of renters using credit cards to pay rent increased, a sign of growing consumer financial stress that may intensify if federal aid programs are not extended and renters see their incomes drop. FT