Key Economic Indicators – April 6, 2015

  • Total non-farm payroll employment increased 126 thousand in March, following an increase of 264 thousand in the previous month.   Private-sector payrolls increased by 129 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 3 thousand.
  • The number of unemployed persons decreased by 130 thousand to 8.575 million in March. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5%.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased 0.1 to 34.5 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 5 cents to $24.86. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.1%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 20 thousand to 268 thousand in the week ending March 28. The 4-week moving average was 285.5 thousand, a decrease of 14.75 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 21 was 2,325 thousand, a decrease of 88 thousand from the previous week.
  • Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in February. Twenty-six states had unemployment rate decreases from January, six states and the District of Columbia had increase, and eighteen states had no change. In February, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 36 states and the District of Columbia, decreased in 13 states, and was unchanged in one state.
  • Personal income increased 0.4%, in February, while personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1%. Personal savings as percent of personal disposable income were 5.8% in February, compared with 5.5% in the previous month. Real disposable personal income increased 0.2%, while real personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.1%.
  • The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2% in February, while the core index increased 0.1%. The price index (headline index) was up 0.3% from February 2014, while the core index was up 1.4%.
  • Sales of domestic cars increased 4.6% in March, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 5.5%. Total light vehicle sales were 17.1 million units, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 16.4 million in March of 2014.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.2% in February, following six consecutive monthly decreases. Shipments increased 0.7%, following four consecutive monthly decreases. Unfilled orders were down for the fourth consecutive month, while inventories were up 0.1%, following two consecutive monthly decreases.
  • In February, international trade deficit was $35.4 billion, down $7.2 billion from $42.7 billion in January. Year-to-date trade deficit decreased $2.6 billion, from the same period in 2014.
  • February construction spending was down 0.1% from the previous month, but was up 2.1% from February 2014. Private construction was up 0.2%, while public consumption was down 0.8%.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index increased 3.1% to a reading of 106.9 in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was 12.0% above February 2014 level.
  • The S & P/Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Index for January indicates that home prices continued their rise across country over the last 12 months. However, monthly data show slowing increases and seasonal weakness. The National index was down 0.1% from the previous month, but was up 4.5% from January 2014.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates little changed. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.70% for the week ending April 2, up slightly from last week when it averaged 3.69%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate was 4.41%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.98%, up from a week ago when it averaged 2.97%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 4.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 27th.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had decreased in February, improved in March. The expectations index increased to 96, while the present situation index decreased to 109.1.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that manufacturing sector expanded in March for the 27th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 70th consecutive month.

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