Key Economic Indicators – November 9, 2020

  • Total non-farm payroll employment increased 638 thousand in October, following an increase of 672 thousand in the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Private-sector payrolls increased by 906 thousand, while government employment decreased by 268 thousand. In October, notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and construction. Employment in government declined over the month, mainly in state and local government education. The unemployment rate decreased to 6.9% in October, from 7.9% in September. The unemployment rate was 3.6% in October 2019.
  • The number of unemployed decreased by 1,519 thousand to 11.061 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 1,151 thousand to 3.556 million and accounted for 32.5% of the unemployed. Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff decreased by 1.4 million in October to 3.2 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April but is 2.4 million higher than in February.
  • The labor force participation rate increased to 61.7% in October, from 61.4% in September, while the employment-population ratio increased from 56.6% to 57.4%.
  • The average workweek of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.8 hours.
  • In October, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 4 cents to $29.50. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings were up 4.5%, but with the warning from the Bureau of labor Statistics: “The large employment fluctuations over the past several months—especially in industries with lower-paid workers—complicate the analysis of recent trends in average hourly earnings.”
  • The advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 7 thousand to 751 thousand in the week ending October 31. The 4-week moving average was 787 thousand, a decrease of 4 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment (ongoing) during the week ending October 24 was 7,285 thousand, a decrease of 538 thousand from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 8,244.5 thousand, a decrease of 827.25 thousand from the previous week’s revised average. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 5.0% for the week ending October 24, a decrease of 0.3 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate.
  • Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased 4.9% in the third quarter of 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as output increased 43.5% and hours worked increased 36.8% (seasonally adjusted annual rates). Over the last four quarters (from the third quarter of 2019), nonfarm business productivity increased 4.1%. Unit labor costs in the nonfarm business sector decreased at an annual rate of 8.9% in the third quarter of 2020, reflecting a 4.4% decrease in hourly compensation and a 4.9% increase in productivity. The third-quarter decline in unit labor costs was the largest decline since the first quarter of 2009, when the measure fell 13.4%. Unit labor costs increased 2.5% over the last four quarters.
  • The international trade in goods and services deficit was $63.9 billion in September, down $3.2 billion from $67.0 billion in August, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. September exports were $176.4 billion, $4.4 billion more than August exports. September imports were $240.2 billion, $1.2 billion more than August imports. The September decrease in the goods and services deficit reflected a decrease in the goods deficit of $3.1 billion to $80.7 billion and an increase in the services surplus of less than $0.1 billion to $16.8 billion. Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $38.5 billion, or 8.6%, from the same period in 2019. Exports decreased $329.0 billion or 17.4%. Imports decreased $290.4 billion or 12.4%.
  • The results of Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed mortgage rates decreasing. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 2.78% for the week ending November 5, down from last week when it averaged 2.81%. A year ago, at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.69%. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 2.32%, unchanged from the previous week. A year ago, at this time, the 15-year fixed rate averaged 3.13%.
  • Mortgage applications increased 3.8% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending October 30, 2020.
  • There were 48,996,342 COVID-19 confirmed cases in the world, 1,237,773 deaths, and 32,330,456 recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, Coronavirus Resource Center (access date and time: 11/6/2020, 13:00 EST). In the United States, there are 9,643,922 confirmed cases, 235,199 deaths, and 3,781,751 recovered cases. The world is struggling to control the spread of the virus.

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