Key Economic Indicators – October 7, 2019

  • Total non-farm payroll employment increased 136 thousand in September, following an increase of 168 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 114 thousand in September, while government employment increased by 22 thousand. In September, job gains occurred in health care and in professional and business services. The average monthly gain in employment was 161 thousand thus far in 2019, compared with an average monthly gain of 223 thousand in 2018.
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 3.5% in September, from 3.7% in August. The unemployment rate was 3.7% in September 2018.
  • The number of unemployed decreased by 275 thousand to 5.769 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 71 thousand to 1.314 million and accounted for 22.7% of the unemployed.
  • The labor force participation rate remained at 63.2% in September, and the employment-population ratio was little changed at 61.0%.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours.
  • In September, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by a cent to $28.09. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 2.9%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance increased 4 thousand to 219 thousand in the week ending September 28. The 4-week moving average was 212.5 thousand, unchanged from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending September 21 was 1,651 thousand, a decrease of 5 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 1,661.5 thousand, a decrease of 5.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in August than a year earlier in 224 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 132 areas, and unchanged in 33 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 52 metropolitan areas and was essentially unchanged in 337 areas.
  • State personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased on average 5.1% in 2018, compared with a 4.4% increase in 2017, according to by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The percentage change in expenditures across all states ranged from 7.3% in Uah to 3.6% in West Virginia. In 2018, across all states and the District of Columbia, per capita PCE was $42,757. Per capita PCE by state ranged from a high of $55,095 in Massachusetts to a low of $31,083 in Mississippi. Per capita PCE in the District of Columbia was $63,151.
  • New orders for manufactured goods in August decreased 0.1%, following a 1.4% increase in the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.    Shipments decreased 0.1%, after a 0.3% decrease in July. Unfilled orders were up 0.1%, while inventories were down less than 0.1%. Year-to-date, new orders were down 0.1%, while shipments were up 1.4%.
  • The international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $54.9 billion in August from $54.0 billion in July (revised), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. August exports were $207.9 billion, $0.5 billion more than July exports. August imports were $262.8 billion, $1.3 billion more than July imports. Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $28.3 billion, or 7.1%, from the same period in 2018. Exports decreased $3.2 billion or 0.2%, while imports increased $25.1 billion or 1.2%.
  • August construction spending was up 0.1% from the previous month but was down 1.9% from a year ago. Residential construction increased 0.9%, while nonresidential construction decreased 0.4%. Total private construction increased less than 0.1% in August, while total public construction increased 0.4%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates held steady. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.65% for the week ending October 3, slightly up from last week when it averaged 3.64%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 4.71%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.14%, down slightly from the previous week when it averaged 3.16%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 4.15%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 8.1% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 27, 2019.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector contracted in September, and the overall economy grew for the 125th consecutive month. The headline index was 47.8, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points from the August reading of 49.1. This is the lowest reading since June 2009, the last month of the Great Recession, when the index registered 46.3.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey indicated that economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in September, for the 116th consecutive month. The 13 non-manufacturing industries reported growth and four sector reported contraction in September. In September, the non-manufacturing index was 52.6, 3.8 percentage points lower than the 56.4 in August. This is the lowest reading since August 2016, when the index was 51.8.

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