Key Economic Indicators – May 9, 2016

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 160 thousand in April, following an increase of 208 thousand in the previous month.   Private-sector payrolls increased by 171 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 11 thousand.
  • The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.0% in April.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 8 cents to $25.53. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.5%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 17 thousand to 274 thousand in the week ending April 30. The 4-week moving average was 258 thousand, an increase of 2 thousand from the previous week.
  • First quarter productivity decreased 1.0% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 1.7% decrease in the final quarter of 2015. From the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016, productivity increased 0.6%. Unit labor costs increased 4.1% in the first quarter of 2016, reflecting a 3.0% increase in hourly compensation and a 1.0% decline in productivity.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 0.8% in April, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 5.2%. Total vehicle sales were 17.3 million units in April, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 16.7 million in April of 2015.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.1% in March, while shipments increased 0.5%. Year-to-date new orders were down 2.0% from the same period in 2015, while shipments were down 2.2%. Excluding transportation, shipments were up 1.0% in March, while new orders were up 0.8%.
  • In March international trade deficit was $40.4 billion, $6.5 billion less than the revised February figure. March exports were $176.6 billion, $1.5 billion less than February exports. March imports were $217.1 billion, $8.1 billion less than February imports. Year-to-date the goods and services deficit decreased $1.0 billion, or 0.8%, from the same period in 2015.
  • March construction spending was up 0.3% from the previous month, and was up 8.0% from March 2015, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Private construction increased 1.1% in March, while public construction decreased 1.9%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.61% for the week ending May 5th, down from last week when it averaged 3.66%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.80%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.86%, down from last week when it averaged 3.89%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.02%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.4% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 29, 2016.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in April for the second consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 83rd consecutive month. 
  • In April, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 75th consecutive month. Thirteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth, while four industries reported contraction in April.

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