• Advance estimates of retail and food services sales for May were up 17.7% from April but were down 6.1% from May 2019. Excluding motor vehicles & parts, retail sales were up 12.4% from the previous month, but were down 6.6% from a year ago. Sales of clothing & clothing accessories stores were down 63.4% from a year ago, while electronics & appliance stores sales were down 29.9%. Furniture & home furnishing stores sales decreased 21.5% from May 2019, while food services & drinking places sales decreased 39.4%. Year-to-date, sales for retail and food services were down 4.7% from the same period a year ago and sales excluding motor vehicle and parts were down 3.6%.
  • Total manufacturing and trade sales for April were down 14.4% from the previous month and were down 18.4% from a year ago. Total business inventories for April were down 1.3% from the previous month and were down 2.2% from April 2019. The total business inventories/sales ratio was 1.67 in April, compared with 1.39 year ago.
  • Total Industrial production increased 1.4% in May, following a 12.5% decrease in April, its largest drop in the 101-year history of the index, as the COVID-19 pandemic led many factories to slow or suspend operations. The index was down 15.3% from May of 2019. Manufacturing output increased 3.8%, following a 15.5% drop in April, its largest decline on record. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.8 percentage point in May to 64.8, a rate that is 15.0 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2019) average, and 13.0 percentage points below the level in May 2019.
  • The current account deficit, narrowed by $0.1 billion to $104.2 billion in the first quarter of 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, from the revised fourth quarter deficit of $104.3 billion. The first quarter deficit was 1.9% of current dollar gross domestic product, up less than 0.1 percentage point from the fourth quarter. The $0.1 billion narrowing of the current account deficit in the first quarter mainly reflected a reduced deficit on goods that was largely offset by a reduced surplus on primary income and an expanded deficit on secondary income. Exports of goods and services to, and income received from, foreign residents decreased $47.5 billion, to $902.3 billion, in the first quarter. Imports of goods and services from, and income paid to, foreign residents decreased $47.7 billion, to $1.01 trillion.
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 58 thousand to 1,508 thousand in the week ending June 13. The 4-week moving average was 1,773.5 thousand, a decrease of 234.5 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending June 6 was 20,544 thousand, a decrease of 62 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 20,814.75 thousand, a decrease of 1,092 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 14.1% for the week ending June 6, unchanged from the previous week’s revised rate. It was stated that: “The COVID-19 virus continues to impact the number of initial claims and insured unemployment.  This report includes information on claimants filing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation claims.”
  • Unemployment rates were lower in May in 38 states and the District of Columbia, higher in 3 states and stable in 9 states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. All 50 states and the District of Columbia had jobless rate increases from a year earlier. Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in May, 25.3%, followed by Hawaii, 22.6%, and Michigan, 21.2%. The rates in Delaware (15.8%), Florida (14.5%), Massachusetts (16.3%), and Minnesota (9.9%) set new series highs. (All state series begin in 1976.) Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate, 5.2%. In total, 24 states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 13.3%, 12 states had higher rates, and 14 states had rates that were not very different from that of the nation.
  • Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 46 states, decreased in Hawaii and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in 3 states in May 2020. Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment decreased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The largest job gains occurred in Texas (237.8 thousand), Pennsylvania (198.3 thousand), and Florida (182.9 thousand). The largest percentage increases occurred in Vermont (6.4%), Michigan (5.2%), and Montana and Pennsylvania (4.0%, each). Employment decreased in Hawaii (6 thousand, or 1.1%) and the District of Columbia (9.1 thousand, or 1.2%). All 50 states and the District of Columbia had over-the-year decreases in nonfarm payroll employment in May. The largest job declines occurred in California (2,267.1 thousand), New York (1,794 thousand), and Texas (917.8 thousand). The smallest declines occurred in Wyoming (26.9 thousand), South Dakota (33.1 thousand), and Alaska (40.7 thousand). The largest percentage declines occurred in Hawaii (20.1%), Michigan (19.2%), and New York (18.3%).
  • Employer costs for employee compensation for civilian workers averaged $37.73 per hour worked in March 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries cost employers $25.91 while benefit costs were $11.82. Total compensation costs for civilian workers were $13.15 at the 10th wage percentile, $28.40 at the 50th (median) wage percentile, and $74.17 at the 90th wage percentile. State and local government worker compensation costs for employers averaged $52.45 per hour worked in March 2020. Wages and salaries averaged $32.62 and accounted for 62.2 percent of employer costs, while benefit costs averaged $19.82 and accounted for 37.8 percent. Total compensation costs at the 50th (median) wage percentile were $50.06. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $35.34 per hour worked. Wages and salaries averaged $24.82 per hour worked and accounted for 70.2 percent of employer costs. Benefit costs averaged $10.53 per hour worked and accounted for the remaining 29.8 percent. Median (50th wage percentile) employer costs per employee hour worked were $26.00 for total compensation, $18.05 for wages and salaries, and $7.95 for benefits. Total compensation costs for private industry workers ranged from $12.62 at the 10th wage percentile to $69.32 at the 90th wage percentile.
  • Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974 thousand, 4.3% above the revised April figure, but 23.2% below the May 2019 level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 675 thousand, 0.1% above the previous month. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,220 thousand, 14.4% above the revised April rate, but 8.8% below the May 2019 rate.  Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 745 thousand, 11.9% above the previous month, but 9.9% below a year ago.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that mortgage rates dropped to another all-time low. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.13% for the week ending June 18, down from last week when it averaged 3.21%. This was the lowest rate in survey’s history, dating back to 1971. A year-ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.84%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 2.58%, down from last week when it averaged 2.62%. A year-ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate averaged 3.25%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 8.0% from a week earlier, according to data from Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey for the week ending June 12th.
  • The June Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicated that business activity steadied in New York State. After record lows in April and May, the general business conditions index climbed 48.3 points to negative 0.2 in June. The prices paid index increased 12.8 points to 16.9 in June, while the prices received index increased 6.8 points to negative 0.6.
  • Manufacturing firms reported signs of improvement in regional manufacturing activity this month, according to results from the Philadelphia FED Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey for June. The survey’s current indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments returned to positive territory, coinciding with the gradual reopening of the economy in our region and the nation more broadly. The employment index remained negative but increased for the second consecutive month. All future indicators improved, suggesting that the firms expect overall growth over the next six months. The diffusion index for current general activity increased from negative 43.1 in May to 27.5 in June. The prices paid index increased 7.9 points to 11.1, and the prices received index increased 14.1 points to 11.0.
  • The Philadelphia FED launched a special weekly business outlook survey on COVID-19. The survey (134 firms) for the week ending on June 14th indicated that nearly 54% of all responding firms reported decreases of more than 5% in new orders or sales (down from 61% last week), while 16% reported increases of more than 5% (up from 10% in the previous week).  More than 54% of the firms reported no changes to their labor force over the past week, 18% of the firms reported hiring new full- or part-time employees, and 13% reported recalling furloughed workers.
  • The Chicago Fed’s National Financial Conditions Index (NFCI) edged down to negative 0.59 in the week ending June 12, from negative 0.56. Risk indicators contributed negative 0.22, credit indicators contributed negative 0.26, and leverage indicators contributed negative 0.10 to the index in the latest week. The adjusted index (ANFCI), which isolates a component of financial conditions uncorrelated with economic conditions to provide an update on financial conditions relative to current economic conditions, also edged down in the latest week to negative 0.07, from negative 0.04. Risk indicators contributed negative 0.33, credit indicators contributed negative 0.43, leverage indicators contributed negative 0.06, and the adjustments for prevailing macroeconomic conditions contributed 0.75 to the index in the latest week.
  • There were over 8,514,522 COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world, 454,513 deaths, and 4,182,169 recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Center (access date and time: 6/19/2020, 9:00 EST). In the United States, there were 2,191,200 confirmed cases, 118,435 deaths, and 599,115 thousand recovered cases. The world is struggling to control the spread of the virus.

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