Key Economic Indicators – September 9, 2019

  • Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 130 thousand in August, following an increase of 159 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 96 thousand, while government employment increased by 34 thousand. Job gains occurred in health care, and financial activities. The average monthly gain in employment was 158 thousand per month thus far this year, below the average monthly gain of 223 thousand in 2018.
  • The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7% in August. The unemployment rate was 3.8% in August 2018.
  • The number of unemployed decreased by 19 thousand to 6.044 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 77 thousand to 1.243 million and accounted for 20.6% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by 77 thousand.
  • The labor force participation rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 63.2% in August.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hours to 34.4 hours.
  • In August, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 11 cents to $28.11. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 3.2%.
  • Second quarter productivity increased 2.3% (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the non-farm business sector, following a 3.5% increase in the previous period. Hourly compensation rose 4.9%, while unit labor costs increased 2.6%. From the second quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2019, labor productivity increased 1.8%, reflecting increases in output and hours worked of 2.6% and 0.9%, respectively.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance was 217 thousand in the week ending August 31, an increase of a thousand from the previous week. The 4-week moving average was 216.25 thousand, an increase of 1.5 thousand from the previous week’s average.
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.4% in July, while shipments decreased 0.2%. Excluding transportation, new orders were up 0.3% in July, and shipments were up 0.2%. Year-to-date manufacturers’ new orders were up 0.4%, while shipments were up 1.8%.
  • Sales of domestic cars increased 0.4% in August, while total light vehicle sales increased 0.7%. Total vehicle sales were 17.0 million units in August, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, compared to 16.9 million in August of 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey of September 6th showed average fixed mortgage rates moving lower. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49% for the week ending September 5th, down from last week when it averaged 3.58%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.54%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.00%, down from last week when it averaged 3.06%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.1% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending August 30th.

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