• Housing starts in August were up 12.3% from the previous month and were up 6.6% from a year ago. Building permits were up 7.7% from the previous month and were up 12.0% from August 2018.
  • August existing home sales increased 1.3% to an annualized rate of 5,490 thousand units. The August figure was 2.6% above the August 2018 figure. There were 1,860 thousand homes for sale at the end of the month. This represents a supply of 4.1 months at the current sales rate, compared to 4.3 in August of 2018. The median sales price of existing houses sold was $278.2 thousand, 4.7% above August 2018.
  • The housing market index of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo increased a point to 68 in September. The Index was 58 in January, and 67 in September of 2018.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average fixed mortgage rates increasing. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.73% for the week ending September 19, up from last week when it averaged 3.56%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.65%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.21%, up from last week when it averaged 3.09%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 4.11%.
  • 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 September 13th.
  • The current account deficit decreased to $128.2 billion in the second quarter, from $136.2 billion in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The deficit decreased to 2.4% of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.6% in the first quarter.
  • The net worth of households and nonprofits rose to $113.4 trillion at the end of second quarter of 2019, compared with $111.6 trillion at the end of the first quarter, and $108.1 trillion at the end of second quarter of 2018.
  • Domestic nonfinancial debt expanded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.1% in the second quarter of 2019, compared with an annual rate of 5.9% in the previous quarter.
  • Domestic nonfinancial debt outstanding was $53.0 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2019, of which household debt was $15.8 trillion, nonfinancial business debt was $15.7 trillion, and total government debt was $21.4 trillion.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased by 2 thousand to 208 thousand in the week ending September 14. The 4-week moving average was 212.25, a decrease of 0.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in August in 5 states, higher in 3 states, and stable in 42 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Five states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, 2 states had increases, and 43 states and the District had little or no change. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 5 states in August 2019, decreased in 1 state, and was essentially unchanged in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, 26 states added nonfarm payroll jobs and 24 states and the District were essentially unchanged.
  • Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $36.61 per hour worked in June 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries averaged $25.12 per hour worked and accounted for 68.6% of these costs, while benefit costs averaged $11.48 and accounted for the remaining 31.4%.
  • Retirement benefits were available to 91% of state and local government workers in March 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sixty-nine percent of state and local government workers in the lowest 10th percent wage category and 95% of workers in the highest 10th percent wage category had access to retirement benefits. Seventy-seven percent of private industry workers had access to and participated in employer-provided retirement benefits, referred to as the take-up rate. Retirement benefits were available to 31% of workers in the lowest 10th percent wage category and 88% of workers in the highest 10th percent wage category.
  • The September 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity was little changed in New York State, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The headline general business conditions index was 2.0 in September, lower than the August figure of 4.8.
  • The PhiladelphiaFEDbusiness outlook survey for September indicated that manufacturing activity continued to expand. The index for current manufacturing activity in the region was 12.0, compared with to a reading of 16.8 in August.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators held steady in August, following a 0.4% increase in the previous month. In the six-month period ending August 2019, the leading economic index increased 0.5% (about a 1.1% annual rate). The coincident index increased 0.3%, after holding steady in the previous month. The coincident economic index grew by 0.7% (about a 1.3% annual rate) in the six-month period ending in August.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee decided to lower the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 1.75% to 2.00%. The Committee indicated that “This action supports the Committee’s view that sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective are the most likely outcomes, but uncertainties about this outlook remain.”

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