Key Economic Indicators – May 11, 2015

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 223 thousand in April, following an increase of 85 thousand in the previous month.   Private-sector payrolls increased by 213 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 10 thousand.
  • The unemployment rate edged down to 5.4% in April, from 5.5% in March.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.5 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 3 cents to $24.87. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.1%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 3 thousand to 265 thousand in the week ending May 2. The 4-week moving average was 279.5 thousand, a decrease of 4.250 thousand from the previous week.
  • First quarter productivity decreased 1.9% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 2.1% decrease in the final quarter of 2014. From the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, productivity increased 0.6%. Unit labor costs increased 5.0% in the first quarter of 2015, reflecting a 3.1% increase in hourly compensation and a 1.9% decline in productivity.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 2.9% in April, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales decreased 3.5%. Total vehicle sales were 16.5 million units in April, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 16.0 million in April of 2014.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 2.1% in March, while shipments increased 0.5%. Year-to-date new orders were down 4.8% from the same period in 2014, while shipments were down 3.2%. Excluding transportation, shipments were down 0.3% in March, while new orders held steady.
  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in March were down 0.2%, while inventories were up 0.1%. Sales of durable goods were up 1.3%, while sales of nondurable goods were down 1.5%. The March inventories/sales ratio was 1.30, compared with 1.19 in March of 2014.
  • In March international trade deficit was $51.4 billion, $15.5 billion more than the revised February figure. March exports were $187.8 billion, $1.6 billion more than February exports. March imports were $239.2 billion, $17.1 billion more than February imports. Year-to-date the goods and services deficit increased $6.4 billion, or 5.2%, from the same period in 2014.
  • March consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 7.4%, following a 5.3% increase in the previous month. Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.4% during the first quarter. During the same time, revolving credits decreased 0.3% while non-revolving credits increased 7.5%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.80% for the week ending May 7th, up from last week when it averaged 3.68%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.21%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 4.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending May 1, 2015.
  • In April, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 63rd consecutive month. Fourteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth, while four industries reported contraction in April.

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