Key Economic Indicators – March 11, 2013

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 236 thousand to 135.046 million in February, following an increase of 119 thousand in the previous month. Private-sector payrolls increased by 246 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 10 thousand.
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 7.7% in February, from 7.9% in January.
  • The average workweek of production and non-supervisory employees increased 0.2 to 33.8 hours, while average hourly earnings increased by 5 cents to $20.04.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.0%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 7 thousand to 340 thousand in the week ending March 7.
  • Fourth quarter productivity decreased 1.9% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 3.1% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation increased 2.6%, while unit labor costs increased 4.6%.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 2.3% in February, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 0.7%. Total light vehicle sales were 15.323 million units in February, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 14.429 million in February of 2012.
  • New orders for manufactured goods decreased 2.0% in January, while shipments decreased 0.2%.
  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in January were down 0.8%, while inventories were up 1.2%.
  • In January international trade deficit was $44.4 billion, $6.3 billion more than the revised December figure.
  • January consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 7.0% to $2,795.3 billion. Revolving credits increased at an annual rate of 0.1%, while non-revolving credits increased 10.0%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates largely holding steady from the previous week, remaining near their 65-year lows.
  • Mortgage applications increased 14.8% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 1st.
  • In February, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity (exceeded 50.0%) for the 38th consecutive month.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity generally expanded at a modest to moderate pace in January and early February.

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