Key Economic Indicators – April 4, 2016

  • Total non-farm payroll employment increased 215 thousand in March, following an increase of 245 thousand in the previous month.   Private-sector payrolls increased by 195 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 20 thousand.
  • The number of unemployed persons increased by 151 thousand to 7.966 million in March. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.0%, from 4.9% in February
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.4 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents to $25.43. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.3%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 11 thousand to 276 thousand in the week ending March 26. The 4-week moving average was 263.25 thousand, an increase of =3.5 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending March 19 was 2,173 thousand, a decrease of 7 thousand from the previous week.
  • Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in February. Twenty-two states had unemployment rate decreases from January, 8 states had increase, and 20 states and the District of Columbia had no change, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 36 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased in 14 states.
  • Personal income increased 0.2%, in February, while personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1%. Personal savings as percent of personal disposable income were 5.4% in February, compared with 5.3% in the previous month. Real disposable personal income increased 0.3%, while real personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.2%.
  • The price index for personal consumption expenditures decreased 0.1% in February, while the core index increased 0.1%. The price index (headline index) was up 1.0% from February 2015, while the core index was up 1.7%.
  • In February, international trade deficit on goods was $62.9 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “advance” report on international trade in goods, compared with a deficit of $62.2 billion in January.
  • February construction spending was down 0.5% from the previous month, but was up 10.3% from February 2015. Private construction was down 0.1% in February, while public consumption was down 1.7%.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index increased 3.5% to a reading of 109.1 in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. The index was 0.7% above February 2015 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. The National index, seasonally adjusted, was up 0.5% in January, following a 0.7% increase in the previous month. The National index, not seasonally adjusted, was unchanged from the previous month, but was up 5.4% from January 2015. As of January 2016, average home prices were back to their winter 2007 levels, and were approximately 11-13% below their June/July 2006 peaks.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates little changed. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.71% for the week ending March 31, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.70%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.98%, up from a week ago when it averaged 2.96%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year rate averaged 2.98%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 1.0% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 25th.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had decreased in February, improved in March. The expectations index increased to 84.7, while the present situation index decreased to 113.5.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that manufacturing sector expanded in March for the first time in the last six months, while the overall economy grew for the 82nd consecutive month.

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