Key Economic Indicators – February 5, 2018

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose 200 thousand in January, following an increase of 160 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Private-sector payrolls increased by 196 thousand in the month, while government employment decreased by 4 thousand. Employment continued to trend up in construction, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing.
  • The unemployment rate was 4.1% in January, compared with 4.8% in January of 2017.
  • The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.2 hour to 34.3 hours in January. In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 9 cents to $26.74, following an 11-cent gain in December. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 75 cents, or 2.9%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased a thousand to 230 thousand in the week ending January 27. The 4-week moving average was 234.5 thousand, a decrease of 5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity decreased at a 0.1% annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, following a 2.7% increase in the previous quarter. The productivity was up 1.1% from the fourth quarter of 2015. Nonfarm business sector productivity grew 1.2% in the year 2017, following a 0.1% decrease in 2016.
  • The Employment Cost Index for total compensation rose 0.6%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending December 2017, following a 0.7% increase for the 3–month period ending September 2017. Compensation costs increased 2.6% for the 12-month period ending December 2017.
  • Personal income increased 0.4%, in December, while disposable personal income increased 0.3%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures increased 0.4%, following a 0.8% increase in the previous month. The price index for personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1% in December, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The price index excluding food and energy increased 0.2% in December, after a 0.1% increase in November. The price index increased 1.7% from December 2016, while the index excluding food and energy increased 1.5%.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.7% in December, while shipments increased 0.6%. New orders for manufactured goods increased 6.0% in the year 2017, and shipments increased 5.2%.
  • December construction spending was up 0.7% from November, and was up 2.6% from December 2016. Private construction increased 0.8% in December, while public construction increased 0.3%.
  • The Pending Home Sales Index, a leading indicator for the housing sector, increased 0.5% to a reading of 110.1 in December, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Index was up 0.5% from December 2016.
  • The S & P Corelogic Case-Shiller National U.S. Home Price Indices posted an annual increase of 6.2% for the 12 months ending in November. The 10-city composite index increased 6.1% from November 2016 to November 2017, while and 20-city composite index increased 6.4%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed fixed mortgage rates continuing their upward trend in 2018. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.22% for the week ending February 1, up from last week when it averaged 4.15%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.19%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 2.6% from a week earlier week, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending January 26th.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which had decreased in December, increased to 125.4 in January.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for January was 95.7, down from 95.9 in December.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in January, and the overall economy grew for the 105th consecutive month.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 1.25% to 1.50%. The Committee indicated that labor market conditions continued to strengthen and economic activity continued to expand at a solid rate. The Committee expects “that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant further gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.”

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