Key Economic Indicators – March 13, 2017

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 235 thousand in February, following an increase of 238 thousand in the previous month. Private-sector payrolls increased by 227 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 8 thousand.
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 4.7% in February, from 4.8% in January.
  • The average workweek held steady at 34.4 hours, and average hourly earnings increased by 6 cents to $26.09.  Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.8%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 20 thousand to 243 thousand in the week ending March 4. The 4-week moving average was 236.5 thousand, an increase of 2.25 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • Fourth quarter productivity increased 1.3% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 3.3% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation increased 3.0%, while unit labor costs increased 1.7%. From the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016, productivity increased 1.0%, reflecting increases in output and hours worked of 2.2% and 1.2%, respectively.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.2% in January, while shipments increased 0.2%. New orders were up six of the last seven months, and shipments were up ten of the last eleven months.
  • Sales of merchant wholesalers in January were down 0.1% from December, while inventories were down 0.2%.
  • In January international trade deficit was $48.5 billion, $5.2 billion more than the revised December figure.
  • The import price index increased 0.2% in February, following a 0.6% increase in the previous month. The export price index increased 0.3% in February, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The import price index increased 4.6% from February 2016, while export prices increased 3.1%.
  • January consumer credit outstanding increased at an annual rate of 2.8% to $3,773.5 billion. Revolving credits decreased at an annual rate of 4.6%, while non-revolving credits increased 5.5%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.21% for the week ending March 9, 2017, up from last week when it averaged 4.10%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.68%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 3.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 3rd.

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