Key Economic Indicators – April 10, 2017

  • Total non-farm payroll employment edged up 98 thousand in March, following an increase of 219 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 89 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 7 thousand.
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 4.5% in March, from 4.7% in February. The unemployment rate was 5.0% in March of 2016.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls held steady at 34.3 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 5 cents to $26.14. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.7%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 25 thousand to 243 thousand in the week ending April 1. The 4-week moving average was 250 thousand, a decrease of 4.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 274 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 8 areas, and unchanged in 26 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, 323 metropolitan areas had year-over-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, 64 had decreases, and one had no change.
  • Sales of domestic cars decreased 2.0% in March, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales decreased 5.5%. Total light vehicle sales were 16.5 million units, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 16.6 million in March of 2016.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.0% in February, while shipments increased 0.3%. Unfilled orders were virtually unchanged, while inventories were up 0.2%. Year-to-date new orders for manufactured goods were up 4.6%, and shipments were up 4.3% from the same period in 2016.
  • In February, international trade deficit was $43.6 billion, down $4.6 billion from $48.2 billion in January.  Year-to-date trade deficit increased $2.8 billion, from the same period in 2016.
  • February construction spending was up 0.8% from the previous month, and was up 3.0% from March 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Private construction increased 0.8% in March, while public construction increased 0.6%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.10% for the week ending April 6, down from a week earlier when it averaged 4.14%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.59%. 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.36%, down from last week when it averaged 3.39%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.88%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 1.6% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 31st.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in March, and the overall economy grew for the 94th consecutive month.
  • In March, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 87th consecutive month. Fifteen non-manufacturing industries reported growth, while three industries reported contraction in March.

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