• Real GDP decreased at an annual rate of 4.8% in the first quarter of 2020, according to the “advance” estimate by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). In the fourth quarter of 2019, real GDP increased 2.1%. BEA noted:” The decline in first quarter GDP was, in part, due to the response to the spread of COVID-19, as governments issued “stay-at-home” orders in March. This led to rapid changes in demand, as businesses and schools switched to remote work or canceled operations, and consumers canceled, restricted, or redirected their spending. The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the first quarter of 2020 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.”
  • The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6% in the first quarter of 2020, compared with an increase of 1.4% in the previous quarter. The personal consumption expenditures price index increased 1.3%, compared with an increase of 1.4% in the previous quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the personal consumption expenditures price index increased 1.8%, compared with an increase of 1.3%.
  • Real final sales of domestic product (GDP less change in private inventories) decreased 4.3% in the first quarter, in contrast to an increase of 3.1% in the final quarter of 2019.
  • Current-dollar GDP decreased 3.5%, or $191.6 billion, in the first quarter, to an annualized level of $21.538 trillion.
  • Personal income decreased 2.0% in March, while personal consumption expenditures decreased 7.5%. Real disposable personal income decreased 1.7% in March, while real personal consumption expenditures decreased 7.3%. The personal saving rate – personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income – was 13.1% in March, compared with 8.0% in February, and 7.7% in January.
  • The Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index decreased 0.3%. Excluding food and energy, the personal consumption expenditures price index (core index) decreased 0.1%. The headline price index (PCE) was up 1.3% from March 2019, while the core index was up 1.7%.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 603 thousand to 3,839 thousand in the week ending April 25. The 4-week moving average was 5,033.25 thousand, a decrease of 757 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending April 18 was 17,992 thousand, an increase of 2,174 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The 4-week moving average was 13,292.5 thousand, an increase of 3,733.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.8%, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending in March 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70% of compensation costs) increased 0.9% and benefit costs (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) also increased 0.4% from December 2019. Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.8% for the 12-month period ending in March 2020, the same increase for the 12-month period ending in March 2019. Wages and salaries increased 3.1% over the year and increased 2.9%, while benefit costs increased 2.1%.
  • Unemployment rates were higher in March than a year earlier in 253 of the 389 metropolitan areas, lower in 123 areas, and unchanged in 13 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 45 areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0 percent and 11 areas had rates of at least 10.0 percent. Nonfarm payroll employment increased over the year in 21 metropolitan areas, decreased in 1 area, and was essentially unchanged in the remaining 367 areas.
  • From June 2019 to September 2019, gross job gains from opening and expanding private-sector establishments were 7.3 million, a decrease of 264,000 jobs from the previous quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over this period, gross job losses from closing and contracting private-sector establishments were 7.3 million, a decrease of 93,000 jobs from the previous quarter. The difference between the number of gross job gains and the number of gross job losses yielded a net employment gain of 11,000 jobs in the private sector during the third quarter of 2019.
  • In October 2019, 66.2 percent of 2019 high school graduates ages 16 to 24 were enrolled in colleges or universities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among 20-year old to 29-year old students who received a bachelor’s degree in 2019, 76.0% were employed.
  • The international trade deficit was $64.2 billion in March, up $4.3 billion from $59.9 billion in February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Exports of goods for March were $127.6 billion, $9.1 billion less than February exports. Imports of goods for March were $191.9 billion, $4.8 billion less than February imports.
  • Retail inventories for March, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end of-month level of $666.8 billion, up 0.9% from February 2020, and were up 0.6% from March 2019.
  • Wholesale inventories for March, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end of-month level of $650.0 billion, down 1.0% from February 2020, and were down 2.0% from March 2019.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average mortgage rates reached all-time low. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.23% for the week ending April 30, down from last week when it averaged 3.33%. A year-ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.14%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.77%, down from last week when it averaged 2.86%. A year-ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.60%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 3.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 24th.
  • The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index deteriorated further in April, following a sharp decline in March. The Index now stands at 86.9 (1985=100), down from 118.8 in March. The Present Situation also declined significantly, from 166.7 to 76.4. However, the Expectations Index improved from 86.8 in March to 93.8 in April.
  • The University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for April plunged 71.8, from 89.1 in March. The Index was 97.2 in April of last year. The Current Economic Conditions Index dropped to 74.3 in April, from 103.7 in March. The Index of Consumer Expectations decreased to 70.1 in April, from 79.7 in March.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank continues to take measures to alleviate the negative effects of the virus. The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee also stated: “The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals. To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, the Federal Reserve will continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning, thereby fostering effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions. In addition, the Open Market Desk will continue to offer large-scale overnight and term repurchase agreement operations.” The Federal Reserve Board also expanded the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program, to help credit flow to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the pandemic.
  • As of April 30th, there are over 3.248 million COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world and 230.615 thousand deaths (over 1,005.832 thousand recovered), according to Johns Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Center (access date and time: 4/30/2020, 2:20 pm EST) . In the United States, there are 1.053 million confirmed cases, 61.547 thousand deaths, and 124.748 thousand recovered cases. The world is struggling to control the spread of the virus.

 

  • The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment. The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 810 thousand to 4,427 thousand in the week ending April 18. The 4-week moving average was 5,786.5 thousand, an increase of 280 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 11.0% for the week ending April 11, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous week’s unrevised rate. This marks the highest level of the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending April 11 was 15,976 thousand, an increase of 4,064 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The 4-week moving average was 9,598.25 thousand, an increase of 3,548 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • In 2019, 4.9% of families included an unemployed person, down from 5.2% in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the nation’s 82.6 million families, 81.1% had at least one employed member in 2019.
  • Sales of new single-family houses in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 627 thousand, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 15.4% below the previous month and 9.5% below the March 2019 level. The median sales price of new houses sold in March was $321.4 thousand, 3.5% above a year ago. There were 333 thousand new houses for sale at the end of March. This represents a supply of 6.4 months at the current sales rate, compared with 5.8 months a year ago. The Census Bureau stated: “Due to recent events surrounding COVID‐19, many governments and businesses are operating on a limited capacity or have ceased operations completely. The Census Bureau has monitored response and data quality and determined estimates in this release meet publication standards.”
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average mortgage rates increasing slightly. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.33% for the week ending April 23, up slightly from last week when it averaged 3.31%. A year-ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.20%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.86%, up from last week when it averaged 2.80%. A year-ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.64%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 0.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 17th.
  • The Conference Board index of leading economic indicators decreased 6.7% in March, following a decrease of 0.2% in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the leading index decreased 6.6% (about an 12.8% annual rate). This was a sharp reversal from the growth over the previous six months. Furthermore, the deterioration was very broad based and have become very widespread. The Conference Board coincident economic index decreased 0.9% in March, following a 0.3% increase in the previous month. Over the six-month span through March, the coincident index decreased 0.3% (about a 0.6% annual rate).
  • Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for March were down 8.7% from February and were down 6.2% from March 2019. Excluding motor vehicle & parts, retail sales in March were down 4.5% from the previous month and were down 1.7% from a year ago. Year-to-date, retail sales were up 1.7% from the same period a year ago.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for February were down 0.5% from January but were up 1.4% from February 2019.  Total business inventories for February were down 0.4% from the previous month and were down 0.1% from a year ago.
  • Total Industrial production decreased 5.4% in March following a 0.5% increase in the previous month. The index was 5.5% below its March 2019 level.
  • Capacity utilization for the industrial sector decreased 4.3 percentage points in March to 72.7, a rate that is 7.1 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2019) average, and 5.7 percentage points below March 2019 level.
  • The import price index decreased 2.3% in March, following a 0.7% decrease in the previous month.  The export price index decreased 1.6%, following a 1.1% decrease in the previous month. Import prices decreased 4.1% from March 2019 to March 2020, while export prices decreased 3.6%.
  • Housing starts in March were down 22.3% from the previous month but were up 1.4% from a year ago. Building permits were down 6.8% from the previous month but were up 5.0% from a year ago. Year-to-date, housing starts were up 22.3% from the same period a year ago, while building permits were up 12.1%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that mortgage rates were near all-time lows. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.31% for the week ending April 16, down from last week when it averaged 3.33%. A year-ago this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 4.17%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.80%, up from last week when it averaged 2.77%. A year-ago this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.62%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 7.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 10th.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 1,370 thousand to 5,245 thousand in the week ending April 11. The 4-week moving average was 5,508.5 thousand, an increase of 1,240.75 thousand from the previous week’s average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending April 4 was 11,976 thousand, an increase of 4,530 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The 4-week moving average was 6,066.25 thousand, an increase of 2,568.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 115.9 million full-time wage and salary workers were $957 in the first quarter of 2020 (not seasonally adjusted), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was 5.7% higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 2.1% in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.
  • Unemployment rates were higher in March in 29 states and the District of Columbia, lower in 3 states, and stable in 18 states and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Twenty-three states had jobless rate increases from a year earlier, 3 states had decreases, and 24 states and the District of Columbia had little or no change. Nonfarm payroll employment decreased in 31 states in March 2020 and was essentially unchanged in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 13 states, decreased in 2, and was essentially unchanged in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
  • The FED’s “Beige Book” indicated that overall economic activity contracted sharply and abruptly across all regions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Producers of food and medical products reported strong demand but faced both production delays, due to infection-prevention measures, and supply chain disruptions. Some other manufacturing industries, such as autos, mostly shut down. All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months. Employment declined steeply in almost all Districts. Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand. Districts reported either slowing price growth, flat prices, or modest to moderate declines in prices on balance.
  • The April Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity plunged in New York. The general business conditions index was negative 78.2 in April, compared with negative 21.5 in March. The prices paid index decreased 18.7 points, while the prices received index decreased 18.5 points.
  • The Philadelphia FED business outlook survey for April reported continued weakening in manufacturing activity in the region. The indicator for general activity, decreased to negative 56.6 in April, from negative 12.7 in March. The prices paid index decreased to negative 9.3, while prices received index decreased to negative 10.6.
  • As of April 17th, there are over 2 million COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world and 150 thousand deaths (over 550 thousand recovered), according to Johns Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Center. In the United States, there are 670 thousand confirmed cases, 33 thousand deaths, and 56 thousand recovered cases.

 

  • The Federal Reserve continues to take additional actions to provide loans to support the economy. This funding will assist households, employers of all sizes, and bolster the ability of state and local governments to deliver critical services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 261 thousand to 6,606 thousand in the week ending April 4. The 4-week moving average was 4,265.5 thousand, an increase of 1,598.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 28 was 7,455 thousand, an increase of 4,396 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The previous high was 6,635 thousand in May of 2009. The 4-week moving average was 3,500 thousand, an increase of 1,439 thousand from the previous week’s revised average.
  • The number of job openings was little changed at 6.9 million on the last business day of February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the month, hires and separations were little changed at 5.9 million and 5.6 million, respectively. Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.3% and the layoffs and discharges rate were little changed at 1.2%.
  • Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 277 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 80 areas, and unchanged in 32 areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, 34 metropolitan areas had year-over-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment, and 355 had essentially no change.
  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.8% from February to March. This result stems from a 0.4% increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.4% decrease in the consumer price index.
  • Retail trade, finance and insurance, and utilities were the leading contributors to the increase in U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. An increase in private services-producing industries was partly offset by a slight decrease in goods-producing industries; the government sector increased. Overall, 17 of 22 industry groups contributed to the 2.1% increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter. Real GDP increased 2.3% in the year 2019 (from the 2018 annual level to the 2019 annual level). The private goods- and services-producing sectors, as well as the government sector, contributed to the increase. Growth was widespread, with 20 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase. Professional, scientific, and technical services; finance and insurance; and information were the leading contributors to the increase in real GDP in 2019.
  • Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 48 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The percent change in real GDP in the fourth quarter ranged from 3.4% in Washington and Utah to negative 0.1% in West Virginia. Real GDP increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the year 2019. The percent change in real GDP ranged from 4.4% in Texas to 0.6% in Nebraska.
  • February sales of merchant wholesalers were down 0.8% from the previous month but were up 1.1% from a year ago. Inventories for February were down 0.7% from the previous month and were down 1.3% from a year ago. The February inventories/sales ratio was 1.31, compared with 1.34 in February 2019.
  • The producer price index for final demand decreased 0.2% in March, following a decrease of 0.6% in the previous month. The producer price index for final demand less foods, energy, and trade decreased 0.2% in March, following a decrease of 0.1% in the previous month.  The producer price index for final demand increased 0.7% from March 2019 to March 2020, while the index excluding foods, energy, and trade increased 1.0%.
  • The consumer price index (headline index) decreased 0.4% in March, following a 0.1% increase in the previous month. The core, all items less food and energy, index decreased 0.1%, following a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The consumer price index increased 1.5% for the 12-month period ending in March, while the core index increased 2.1%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed average mortgage rates were virtually unchanged. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.33% for the week ending April 9, unchanged from last week. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.12%. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.77% for the week ending April 9, down from last week when it averaged 2.82%. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.60%.
  • Mortgage applications decreased 17.9% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending April 3rd.
  • The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for April plunged 18.1 points to 71.0. The Index was 97.2 in April of last year. The Current Economic Conditions Index dropped to 72.4 in April, from 103.7 in March. The Index of Consumer Expectations decreased to 70.0 in April, from 79.7 in March.
  • Total non-farm payroll employment decreased 701 thousand in March, following an increase of 275 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls decreased by 713 thousand in the month, while government employment increased by 12 thousand. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it. Employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 459 thousand, mainly in food services and drinking places. Notable declines also occurred in health care and social assistance, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 0.2 hour to 34.2 hours. Average hourly earnings increased by 11 cents to $28.62. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 3.1%.
  • The unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in March, from 3.5% in February. The unemployment rate was 3.8% in March of 2019.
  • The number of unemployed persons increased by 1.353 million to 7.140 million. At 1.164 million, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in March and accounted for 15.9% of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 141 thousand.
  • The labor force participation rate decreased by 0.7 percentage point to 62.7% in March.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance surged 3,341 thousand to 6,648 thousand in the week ending March 28. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The 4-week moving average was 2,612 thousand, an increase of 1,607.75 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending March 21 was 3,029 thousand, an increase of 1,245 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. This is the highest level for insured unemployment since July 6, 2013 when it was 3,079 thousand. The 4-week moving average was 2,053.5 thousand, an increase of 327.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. This is the highest level for this average since January 14, 2017 when it was 2,062 thousand.
  • In February international trade in goods and services deficit was $39.9 billion, $5.5 billion less than the revised January figure, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. February exports were $207.5 billion, $0.8 billion less than January exports. February imports were $257.5 billion, $6.3 billion less than January imports.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates dropping again. 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.33% for the week ending April 2, down from a week earlier when it averaged 3.50%. A year-ago at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.08%. 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.82%, down from last week when it averaged 2.92%. A year-ago at this time, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.56%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 15.3% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending March 27th.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing survey indicated that the manufacturing sector contracted in March, and the overall economy grew for the 131st consecutive month.
  • In March, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) non-manufacturing survey results indicated growth in the non-manufacturing business activity for the 122nd consecutive month. Nine non-manufacturing industries reported growth, while seven industries reported contraction in March.