Data Updates

Data Updates

October 2009

  • 10.30.2009
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income was unchanged in September after a downward revised 0.1 percent gain in August. Still, the series’ 12-month growth rate is solidly negative at −2.8 percent. Private industry wages and salaries fell 0.2 percent in September, reversing a 0.2 percent increase in August and is down 7.0 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income was flat in September, following a slight increase in August. Nominal personal consumption expenditures fell 0.5 percent during the month and, after adjusting for price effects, “real” consumption slipped down 0.6 percent after a strong 1.0 percent gain in August. Durables consumption—reflecting the end of the government’s CARS program—more than reversed a 6.7 percent gain in August, plummeting 7.2 percent in September, pushing its 12-month growth rate into the red (at −2.5 percent). Nondurables consumption rose 0.5 percent in September, following a 0.9 percent gain in August, pulling its 3-month annualized growth rate up to 5.0 percent and its longer-term trend (12-month percent change) into positive territory (up 0.8 percent) for the first time since June 2008. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable income continued to track higher relative to pre-recession rates, rising from 2.8 percent in August to 3.3 percent in September.
  • 10.30.2009
  • PCE
  • The PCE price index increased 1.4 percent (annualized rate) in September, after a large 4.2 percent (energy-price induced) jump in August. While PCE prices are still down 0.5 percent over the past 12 months, its 3-month growth rate is up 2.0 percent. Excluding food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.5 percent during the month, following a 1.1 percent increase in August, while its 12-month growth rate remained at 1.3 percent in September, its lowest growth rate since September 2001.
  • 10.30.2009
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumer Sentiment rebounded from its preliminary reading of 69.4 for October, to 70.6 in its final report. While this is represents a slight retrenchment from a recent high of 73.5 in September, it is still up substantially from an average of 58.3 in the first quarter. Perhaps the most worrisome aspect of October’s dip is that it was driven entirely by a nearly 5.0 point drop in the consumers’ expectations component of the index. One-year average inflation expectations were revised up by 0.1 percentage point to 3.2 percent in October, compared to expectations of 2.8 percent in September. Longer-term (five-to-10-year ahead) average expectations rose from were revised down 0.2 percentage point to 3.2 percent in October, unchanged from September’s reading.
  • 10.30.2009
  • Employment Cost Index
  • The Employment Cost Index (ECI) for civilian workers increased 1.5 percent (annualized rate) in the third quarter of 2009, leaving the growth rate unchanged from the previous quarter. Over the past year, the ECI is up a mere 1.6 percent, a record low since the series began in 1982. Wages and salaries for state and local government workers actually fell by −0.4 percent, after growth of 4.0 percent in 2009:Q2, while the wages and salaries of workers in goods-producing industries and private industry increased by 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. The net result of this was a growth rate in wages and salaries for civilian workers of 1.5 percent, unchanged from the previous quarter. Benefits rose 1.5 percent during the quarter, up from 1.1 percent in the previous quarter.
  • 10.29.2009
  • Real GDP
  • GDP rose at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter according to the advance release by the BEA, somewhat higher than consensus expectations, pulling its four-quarter growth rate up from −3.8 percent to −2.3 percent. The third quarter’s increase was driven in large part by a 3.4 percent jump in personal consumption expenditures (its largest quarterly gain since 2007:Q1) which contributed 2.4 percentage points (pp) to real GDP growth, as durable goods purchases spiked up 22.3 percent reflecting the impact of the Administration’s CARS program. In fact, the BEA noted in the release that motor vehicle output alone added 1.7 pp to third quarter output growth. There were also strong contributions to growth from private inventory investment and exports. The change in private inventories added 0.9 pp to growth in the third quarter after three consecutive quarters of subtraction. Real exports jumped up 14.7 percent in the third quarter (adding 1.5 pp to output growth), in stark contrast to four consecutive quarterly declines that has left its 4-quarter growth rate at −11.2 percent, even after factoring in the current increase. Imports also reversed a string of decreases (seven in a row), rising 16.4 percent during the quarter, though this subtracted 2.0 pp from real GDP growth (as imports enter in as a negative in GDP accounting). Residential investment posted its first quarterly increase in since 2005:Q4, rising 23.3 percent in the third quarter and pulling its year-over-year growth rate up to −18.1 percent from 25.6 percent previously. Nonresidential fixed investment continued to decline in the third quarter (though no where near the 39 percent plummet in the first quarter), falling 2.5 percent as structures investment decreased 9.0 percent, overwhelming a slight 1.2 percent gain in equipment and software.
  • 10.28.2009
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods rebounded in September, increasing 1.0 percent (nonannualized) after slipping to 2.6 percent in August. Still, over the past three months, new orders have risen at an annualized pace of 12.6 percent. Durable goods orders excluding transportation rose 0.9 percent in September and, while off their current cyclical low of -24 percent, are still down nearly 17 percent over the past 12 months. Nondefense capital goods orders (excluding aircraft)—which some use as a proxy for business fixed investment—reversed their past two monthly decreases, rising 2.0 percent in September, pulling the 12-month growth rate up from -21.1 percent in August to -16.6 percent. Shipments rose 0.8 percent during the month and are trending at an annualized rate of 6.6 percent over the past three months. Inventories contracted for the ninth consecutive month, falling 1.0 percent in September. Given rising shipments and decreasing inventories, the inventories-to-shipments ratio continued to recede from a cyclical high of 1.89 months in January, ticking-down to 1.77 months from 1.80 months in August.
  • 10.28.2009
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes surprised expectations to the downside, slipping 3.6 percent (+/− 10.2 percent) in September to an annualized sales pace of 402,000 units from a downwardly revised August level (from 429,000 to 417,000). Even with September’s decrease, sales are still up roughly 22 percent from a cyclical low of 329,000 reached in January. The inventory of new houses for sale continued to contract in September, slipping another 10,000 units to 251,000, though because the sales pace slowed slightly, the months’ supply remained flat at 7.5 months (still elevated relative to historical norms). Also, the median sales price reversed some of August’s decrease, rising 2.5 percent during the month (though the monthly estimates are not seasonally adjusted). It is down 9.1 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 10.27.2009
  • House Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city indexes each rose 1.0 percent in August, marking the third consecutive month of growth after 28 straight months of decline. While gains were not as strong as they were in July, the 12-month growth rates continued to rise from the current-cycle lows reached near the beginning of the year, with the 10-city index at -10.7 percent and the 20-city index at -11.4 percent. Moreover, the annualized three-month growth rates in both the 10-city and the 20-city indexes have risen in excess of 12 percent, the strongest short-term growth rates since near the market peak in late 2005. In a separate survey of house prices, the FHFA purchase-only index fell 0.3 percent in August, after rising for three consecutive months, losing virtually all of the modest 0.3 percent gains in July. Still, the 12-month growth rate increased to -3.6 in August, up from July’s -4.2 percent and a low of -8.8 percent in November 2008. Differences arise between the S&P/Case-Shiller house price index and the FHFA measure due to differences in coverage area and survey methodology.
  • 10.23.2009
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales soared 9.4 percent in September, following a brief setback of 3.0 percent in August. September’s increase marked the largest percentage gain since 1983 and boosted the annual sales pace to 4.9 million units, the highest seen since July 2007. Sales have risen in five of the past six months, bumping the 12-month growth rate further to 7.7 percent. The inventory of existing single-family homes on the market dropped 9.1 percent and, coupled with the increase in sales, resulted in just 7.6 months of supply, down from 9.0 in August and the 10.6-month peak reached in November 2008. Although the median sales price retreated for the third straight month to $174,900, the 12-month growth rate managed to continue its climb, from −12.3 to −8.1 percent in September.
  • 10.20.2009
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts rebounded in September, rising 3.9 percent after a 4.7 percent setback in August interrupted solid growth that began in March. At an annual pace of 501,000 units, starts remain near historic lows but are up 40 percent from the record low in January. By region, the Northeast and South carried September’s gain, rising over 10 percent, while the Midwest and West both saw declines. The more volatile multi-family series, however, fell 15.2 percent over the month, leaving total housing starts with a small gain of only 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, the 12-month growth rate in single-family starts rose substantially, from −21.2 percent to −8.7 percent, the best the series has been since May 2006.

    Permits for single-family homes dropped 3.0 percent in September after five months of increase, but the 12-month growth rate managed to continue inching up to −14.9 percent. Although still at a very depressed level, permits have increased 31.6 percent since their trough in January.

  • 10.20.2009
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods continued to exhibit large energy-induced price swings as it slipped down 6.7 percent in September, following a relatively large 23.1 percent jump in August. Stripping out food and energy prices, the core PPI was virtually flat in September, falling just 0.7 percent (annualized rate) and is now up just 1.8 percent over the past 12 months (its slowest growth rate since mid-2007). Further back on the assembly line, both core intermediate and core crude goods prices increased in September, rising 11.7 percent and 52 percent, respectively. However, both series are relatively volatile and are still posting solidly negative growth rates over the past 12 months.
  • 10.16.2009
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production continued rebounding in September, rising 8.2 percent (annualized rate) following two consecutive monthly increases above 10 percent, pulling its 3-month growth rate up to 11.7 percent, which is indicative of an improving trend given that the 12-month growth rate in IP stands at −6.1 percent. Auto production gains—due to the Administration’s CARS program—continued to bolster the manufacturing sector, which increased 10.7 percent in September, following an upwardly revised 15.1 percent. Still, manufacturing output excluding motor vehicle and parts production rose 5.8 percent in September and is up 7.7 percent over the past three months. Mining output rose 9.4 percent during the month, pulling its 12-month growth rate up from −9.8 percent to 0.2 percent. Utilities production slipped down 7.8 percent in September, after a 24.8 percent upward bounce in August. The three-month diffusion index, a measure of the breadth of the production gains (losses), increased strongly in September—from 44 percent to 54 percent—above 50 percent for the first time since the start of the recession. Capacity utilization continued to rebound in September, rising 0.5 percentage point to 70.5 percent of capacity, up from a cyclical low of 68.3 percent in June.
  • 10.16.2009
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumer Sentiment slipped 4.1 index points to 69.4 in early October, reportedly as “increased concerns about longer term prospects for the economy in early October caused consumer confidence to draw back from the strong September gain.” Indeed, most of September’s decrease came from the consumer expectations component, which fell from 73.5 in September to 67.7 in October. Nevertheless, overall sentiment is up strongly from its current cyclical low of 55.3 reached in November 2008. One-year average inflation expectations ticked up slightly from 2.8 percent to 3.1 percent in October, and the longer-term (five-to-10-year ahead) average expectations rose from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent.
  • 10.15.2009
  • CPI
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose at an annualized rate of 2.0 percent in September, following an energy price-induced 5.5 percent jump in August, pulling its 12-month growth rate up from −1.5 percent to −1.3 percent. The release states that the overall increase was “broad-based” among components and tempered by a 1.2 percent decrease in food prices (its sixth decrease in the past eight months). Excluding food and energy prices (core CPI), the index rose 2.0 percent in September. This is somewhat surprising given that Owners’ Equivalent Rent (OER)—which comprises roughly 25 percent of the overall index (roughly 40 percent of the core CPI)—fell by 1.7 percent during the month, its first monthly decrease since 1992 and its largest decline on record (back to 1982). This decrease was offset by relatively strong increases in lodging away from home (up 19.0 percent), medical care commodities (up 8.1 percent), and vehicle prices. New vehicle prices rebounded somewhat in September, rising 4.9 percent compared to a 14.7 percent decrease in August, as the CARS rebates rolled-off. Interestingly, used car and truck prices jumped up 20.7 percent in September, following a roughly 25 percent increase in August; perhaps adding some credence to the story that the CARS incentive tightened used car dealers inventories and led to higher wholesale and auction prices. While price increases many have been “broad-based” among the number of components, the underlying price-change distribution by expenditure weight reflected some softness. Roughly 44 percent of the overall index (by expenditure weight) exhibited outright price decreases, compared to 33 percent in August. On the other end of the distribution, just 15 percent of the consumers’ marketbasket increased in excess of 5.0 percent; leaving just 12 percent of the overall index rising at rates between 1 percent and 3 percent. Reflecting some of the underlying softness, the median CPI rose just 0.5 percent in September, compared to its three-month growth rate of 0.8 percent and longer-run (12-month percent change) 1.5 percent. The 16 percent trimmed-mean measure increased 1.3 percent in September and is up just 1.5 percent over the past year.
  • 10.14.2009
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales slipped down 1.5 percent (nonannualized) in September, due in large part to an 11.8 percent drop in auto sales as the CARS incentives rolled-off. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.5 percent during the month. Elsewhere, sales gains were relatively broad-based, with only a few categories (building material & supply dealers, miscellaneous store retailers, and nonstore retailers) posting decreases during the month. One of the addenda measures meant to get at “core” retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—rose 0.5 percent in September, following a 0.7 percent increase in August pulling its 12-month growth rate up from −1.8 percent to −0.3 percent during the month. Over the past 3-months, the “core” series is trending at an annualized rate of 4.0 percent, a tentative sign that consumption may be starting to firm.
  • 10.14.2009
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices inched up 0.1 percent (nonannualized) in September, following a 1.6 percent increase in August. Nonpetroleum import prices rose 0.4 percent, the largest increase since July 2008. Petroleum prices, on the other hand, fell by 1.1 percent, as compared to a 7.7 percent jump in August. Despite the increases seen in the previous two months, import prices and nonpetroleum import prices are down 12.0 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively, over the past 12 months. Export prices dropped by 0.3 percent in September (largely due to a 2.8 percent decrease in agricultural prices), a slight retrenchment from a 0.7 percent increase in August. Export prices have fallen 5.6 percent in the past 12 months, thought that is up from a cyclical low of −8.3 percent reached in July.
  • 10.09.2009
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit narrowed by $1.2 billion to $30.7 billion in August, marking a turnaround from the previous two months in which the deficit had widened from $26.4 in May to $31.9 in July. The large increase in gross trade flows that occurred in recent months, which helped spark some optimism for a global rebound, slowed in August. Nominal exports rose by only 0.2 percent, following a 2.5 percent gain in July, and ending a trend of increasing growth in exports that began in May. One of the leading drivers of exports was large growth in exports of nonmonetary gold, which likely correlated with dollar declines in August. Imports, which increased in June and July, fell by 0.6 percent, due in large part to a 7.3 percent decline in net imports of petroleum. Since August 2008, exports are down 20.7 percent, and imports are off by 28.6 percent. The volume of industrial supplies imports—a measure some use to gauge investment expenditures—fell 2.6 percent in August, after gains of 11.8 percent and 3.7 percent in June and July, respectively.
  • 10.02.2009
  • Employment
  • Nonfarm payrolls fell by 263,000 in September (under-performing expectations by roughly 70,000), following a loss of 201,000 in August. Net revisions to July and August’s payroll estimates subtracted an additional 13,000. Since the start of the recession, payroll employment has fallen by 7.2 million. That said, the pace of monthly losses has declined to an average of roughly 250,000 over the past three months compared to −560,000 over the first six months of the year. Private goods producing payrolls fell by 116,000 in September, with losses roughly split between manufacturing and construction payrolls. The service sector fell by 147,000, though 53,000 of that decline came out of government payrolls, with local government non-education payrolls comprising roughly half of the overall decline in government payrolls. There were broad-based losses in the retail sector, combining for a total contraction of 39,000. Even educational services employment fell by 17,000 in September, its largest decrease since September 2008. Health care payrolls posted their “usual” increase, rising roughly 20,000 during the month, and are up 660,000 since the start of the recession. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers ticked back down 0.1 hour to 33.0 hours in September, matching a series low set in June. There is some reason to hold out hope, as the both the total private and manufacturing diffusion indexes improved over a three-month span, to 28 percent and 22 percent, respectively. While 50 percent in this type of index would indicate a balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment, both series are well off their current cyclical lows of 14.2 percent for total private payrolls and 3.6 percent for manufacturing payrolls (both lows were attained in February of this year). Turning to the household measure, the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 9.8 percent (as was expected). The number of unemployment persons rose 214,000 in September (roughly half of the increase seen in August), while the civilian labor force fell by 571,000. An alternative (and somewhat less noisy) measure of labor market duress, the employment-to-population ratio slipped down 0.4 percentage point in September to its lowest level since 1984—58.8 percent.
  • 10.02.2009
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods slipped down 0.9 percent (nonannualized) in August, reversing most of July’s 1.4 percent gain. The 12-month growth rate in new orders improved to −20.4 percent in September, up from −23.2 percent in July. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft ticked down 0.9 percent in August and were revised down to −1.3 percent in July, dampening its three-month annualized growth rate from 30.6 percent to 6.2 percent in September. Shipments fell 0.3 percent in August, erasing all of July’s increase. Manufacturers continued to trim inventories in August (twelfth consecutive month), contracting 0.8 percent. As inventories shrink and shipments start to stabilize, the I/S ratio has started to pull back from its recent cyclical highs of 1.46 months, slipping down to 1.38 months in August.
  • 10.01.2009
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income rose 0.2 percent in August, matching July’s gain, though its 12-month growth rate is still −2.6 percent. Private industry wages and salaries increased 0.2 percent during the month, service-sector pay rose 0.4 percent, offsetting a 0.5 percent decrease in good-producing wages. Disposable personal income ticked up 0.1 percent in August, after remaining flat in July. Nominal personal consumption expenditures increased 1.3 percent during the month, still after adjusting for price effects, “real” consumption rose a strong 0.9 percent. Durables consumption—driven by the government’s CARS program—jumped up 5.8 percent in August and was responsible for the majority of the overall increase in consumption. Consumption of nondurables rose 1.0 percent in August, while services spending increased a mere 0.2 percent. As a result of a relatively strong August, the 12-month growth rate in real consumption expenditures jumped up to 0.3 percent, from −0.7 percent in July, marking its first foray into positive territory since June 2008. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable income continued to retreat from a recent high of 5.9 percent in May, sliding down to 3.0 percent in August.
  • 10.01.2009
  • PCE
  • The PCE price index increased 4.2 percent (annualized rate) in August, driven in large part by rising energy prices. Over the past 12 months, the PCE price index is still down 0.5 percent, hovering just above a series low set last month (−0.8 percent). Excluding food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.1 percent during the month, following a 1.2 percent increase in July. The 12-month growth rate in core PCE ticked down 0.1 percentage point to 1.3 percent in August, its lowest growth rate since September 2001.
  • 10.01.2009
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) ticked down a slight 0.3 index points to a level of 52.6 in September, much lower than was expected (the consensus forecast was 54.0), though it remained above the ISM’s growth threshold of 50 for the second consecutive month. Declines in the new orders component (from 64.9 in August to 60.8 in September) and the production component (from 61.9 to 55.7 in September), outweighed improvements to supplier deliveries and inventories.
  • 10.01.2009
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending jumped up 0.8 percent (nonannualized) in August, its largest monthly increase in eleven months. The overall gain was driven by a large (4.7 percent) gain in private residential construction—its largest monthly increase since November 1993. August’s jump up in residential construction is coming off relatively low levels, as its year-over-year growth rate is still down 26.7 percent. Private nonresidential construction ticked down 0.1 percent during the month, its fifth consecutive decrease. Also, public construction dipped down 1.1 percent in August.