Key Economic Indicators – September 10, 2018

·      Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 201 thousand in August, following an increase of 147 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 204 thousand in July, while government employment decreased by 3 thousand. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and mining. The average monthly gain in employment was 196 thousand per month over the prior 12 months.

·      The unemployment rate held steady at 3.9% in August. The unemployment rate was 4.4% in August 2017.

·      The number of unemployed decreased by 46 thousand to 6.234 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) decreased by 103 thousand to 1.332 million and accounted for 21.5% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 403 thousand.

·      The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 62.7% in August.

·      The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours.

·      In August, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 10 cents to $27.16. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.9%.

·      Second quarter productivity increased 2.9% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 0.3% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation rose 1.9%, while unit labor costs decreased 1.0%. From the second quarter of 2017 to the second quarter of 2018, labor productivity increased 1.3%, reflecting increases in output and hours worked of 3.5% and 2.2%, respectively.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance was 203 thousand in the week ending September 1, a decrease of 10 thousand from the previous week. This is the lowest level for initial claims since December 6, 1969 when it was 202 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 209.5 thousand, a decrease of 2.75 thousand from the previous week’s average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 6, 1969 when it was 204.5 thousand.

·      New orders for manufactured goods decreased 0.8% in July, while shipments increased less than 0.1%. Excluding transportation, new orders were up 0.2% in July, and shipments were up 0.4%. Year-to-date manufacturers’ new orders were up 8.3%, while shipments were up 7.5%.

·      Sales of domestic cars decreased 6.2% in August, while total light vehicle sales decreased 0.6%. Total vehicle sales were 16.6 million units in August, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 16.5 million in August of 2017.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey of September 6th showed average fixed mortgage rates moving higher. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.54% for the week ending September 6th, up from last week when it averaged 4.52%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.78%.

·      Mortgage applications decreased 0.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending August 31st.

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