Key Economic Indicators – October 8, 2018

·      Total non-farm payroll employment increased 134 thousand in September, following an increase of 270 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 121 thousand in September, while government employment increased by 13 thousand. In September, job gains occurred in professional and business services, in health care, and in transportation and warehousing. The average monthly gain in employment was 201 thousand over the prior 12 months.

·      The unemployment rate decreased to 3.7% in September, from 3.9% in August. The unemployment rate was 4.2% in September 2017.

·      The number of unemployed decreased by 270 thousand to 5.964 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 52 thousand to 1.384 million and accounted for 22.9% of the unemployed.

·      The labor force participation rate remained at 62.7% in September, and the employment-population ratio was little changed at 60.4%.

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

·      In September, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 8 cents to $27.24. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.8%.

·      The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 8 thousand to 207 thousand in the week ending September 29. The 4-week moving average was 207 thousand, an increase of 0.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending September 22 was 1,650 thousand, a decrease of 13 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,664.5 thousand, a decrease of 15.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since October 27, 1973 when it was 1,664.25 thousand.

·      Unemployment rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 340 of the 388 metropolitan areas, higher in 35 areas, and unchanged in 13 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 60 metropolitan areas, and was essentially unchanged in 328 areas.

·      Sales of domestic cars increased 4.2% in September, while total light vehicle (cars and light trucks) sales increased 4.5%. Total vehicle sales were 17.4 million units in September, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 17.1 million in January 2018, and 18.1 million in September of 2017.

·      New orders for manufactured goods in August increased 2.3%, following a 0.5% increase in the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.    Shipments, 0.5%, after holding steady in July. Unfilled orders were up 0.9%, while inventories were down 0.1%. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.34, down from 1.35 in July.

·      The international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $53.2 billion in August from $50.0 billion in July (revised), as exports decreased and imports increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. August exports were $209.4 billion, $1.7 billion less than July exports. August imports were $262.7 billion, $1.5 billion more than July imports.. Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $31.0 billion, or 8.6%, from the same period in 2017. Exports increased $129.6 billion or 8.4%, while imports increased $160.6 billion or 8.4%.

·      State personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased on average 4.3% in 2017, compared with a 3.8% increase in 2016, according to by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The percentage change in expenditures across all states ranged from 6.9% in Idaho to 2.0% in North Dakota. In 2017, across all states and the District of Columbia, per capita PCE was $40,878. Per capita PCE by state ranged from a high of $53,267 in Massachusetts to a low of $30,027 in Mississippi. Per capita PCE in the District of Columbia was $60,914.   

·      August construction spending was up 0.1% from the previous month, and was up 6.5% from a year ago. Residential construction decreased 0.7%, while nonresidential construction increased 0.7%. Total private construction decreased 0.5% in August, while total public construction increased 2.0%.

·      The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates decreasing for the first time after five week of increases. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.71% for the week ending October 4, down slightly from last week when it averaged 4.72%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.85%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.15%, down slightly from the previous week when it averaged 4.16%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.15%.

·      Mortgage applications increased 2.9% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 21, 2018.

·      The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in September, and the overall economy grew for the 113th consecutive month.

·      The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey indicated that economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in September, for the 104th consecutive month.

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