Key Economic Indicators – March 9, 2015

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 295 thousand in February, following an increase of 239 thousand in the previous month. Private-sector payrolls increased by 288 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 7 thousand.
  • The number of unemployed persons decreased by 274 thousand to 8.705 million. The unemployment rate decreased to 5.5% in February, from 5.7% in January.
  • The average workweek held steady at 34.6 hours, while average hourly earnings increased by 3 cents to $24.78. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.0%, and average weekly earnings were up 2.6%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 7 thousand to 320 thousand in the week ending February 28. The 4-week moving average increased 10.25 thousand to 304.75 thousand.
  • In 2014, annual average unemployment rates declined in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment-population ratios increased in 35 states and the District of Columbia, decreased in 12 states, and held steady in 3 states. The U.S. jobless rate decreased by 1.2 percentage points to 6.2% in 2014, while the national employment-population ratio increased by 0.4 point to 59.0%.
  • Annual average unemployment rates decreased from 2013 to 2014 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This was the first year since 1984 in which all states and the District of Columbia had over-the-year rate declines.
  • Fourth quarter productivity decreased 2.2% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 3.9% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation increased 1.9%, while unit labor costs increased 4.1%. From the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014, productivity decreased 0.1%. In the year 2014, productivity was up 0.7% from 2013. Unit labor costs increased 1.8% in 2014, following a 0.2% increase in the previous year.
  • Personal income increased 0.3%, in January, while personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.2%. Real disposable personal income increased 0.9%, while real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3%. The price index for personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.5% in January, following a 0.2% decrease in the previous month. The core index, which held steady in December, increased 0.1% in January. The price index for personal consumption expenditures was up 0.2% from January 2014, while the core index was up 1.3%.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 4.8% in February, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales decreased 2.3%. Total light vehicle sales were 16.2 million units in February, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared with 16.6 million in the previous month, and 15.3 million in February of 2014.
  • New orders for manufactured goods decreased 0.2% in January, while shipments decreased 2.0%. Excluding transportation, new orders were down 1.8%, while shipments were down 2.2%.
  • In January international trade deficit was $41.8 billion, $3.8 billion less than the revised December figure.
  • January consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 4.2%. Revolving credits decreased at an annual rate of 1.6%, while non-revolving credits increased 6.3%.
  • January construction spending was down 1.1% from the previous month, but was up 1.8% from January 2014. Private construction decreased 0.5% in January, while public construction decreased 2.6%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower for the first time in four weeks and remaining near late May 2013 lows. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.75% for the week ending March 5, down from last week when it averaged 3.80%. A year ago, the 30-year rate averaged 4.28%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.03%, down from last week when it averaged 3.07%. A year ago, the 15-year rate averaged 3.32%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 0.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending February 27th.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the 26th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 69th consecutive month.
  • In February, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 61st consecutive month.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity continued to expand across most regions and sectors from early January through mid-February.

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