Data Updates

Data Updates

March 2013

  • 03.29.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income increased at a nonannualized rate of 1.1 percent in February, which follows a 2.6 percent increase in December and a 3.7 percent decline in January. The large movements over those prior two months were primarily due to anticipation and implementation of tax changes at the beginning of the year. Over the past twelve months, nominal personal income is up 2.7 percent. There was not much influence of changing taxes on income in February as disposable personal income (personal income less current taxes) also increased 1.1 percent. After controlling for price changes, real disposable personal income increased 0.7 percent for the month and has increased 0.9 percent on a year-over-year basis. While there has been more variation in monthly income changes recently due to tax changes and other factors, income has averaged monthly increases of 0.7 percent since the beginning of the fourth quarter of last year, which is in line with longer-term trends. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.3 percent in February, following increases of 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent in December and January, respectively, and have increased 2.0 percent since February of 2012. The near-term (three-month) trend in monthly consumption growth is at 0.3 percent, which is similar to the trend in monthly changes over the past year. During February, goods consumption improved 0.3 percent, which was primarily driven by consumption of nondurable goods (up 0.5 percent) and services consumption increased 0.3 percent as well. The personal savings rate ticked up from 2.2 to 2.6 percent.
  • 03.29.2013
  • PCE Price Index
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at an annualized rate of 4.8 percent in February, following no change in December and an increase of 0.4 percent in January. Over the past twelve months, the headline PCE price index has increased 1.3 percent. The monthly increase in February was almost entirely driven by a jump in energy prices, a volatile component of the headline index, which increased at an annualized rate of 97.6 percent for the month. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index increased 0.7 percent, and has increased 1.3 percent since February of last year. The current three-month trend in year-over-year changes is 1.3 percent, which is slightly below the 1.5 percent average during the final three months of last year and the 1.7 percent average during all of 2012. The market-based “core” PCE price index, which also excludes most imputed prices, increased 1.5 percent in February, following increases of 0.6 percent in December and 2.8 percent in January, and has increased 1.4 percent over the last twelve months.
  • 03.29.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment rose sharply in the second half of March, erasing the entire decline in the first half of the month. Hearkening back to the “trend-bending” preliminary results of earlier this month, the difference between the preliminary and final estimates is by far the largest ever recorded. Heretofore at 71.8, the Index has been revised to 78.6. Two factors appear to have caused the sudden upward revisions in both of the Index’s components (Current Conditions and Expectations): consumers have discounted the ominous predictions about the effects of the reductions in federal spending, and consumers have renewed their expectation that gains in employment will accelerate through the rest of the year.
  • 03.26.2013
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods rose 5.7 percent in February. Over the past year, new orders are up 3.8 percent. Much of the increase in the headline number was due to a large increase in transportation equipment (up 21.7 percent). Excluding transportation equipment, new orders decreased 0.5 percent in February, following gains of 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent in January and December, respectively. Despite the relative strength in the near-term, on a year-over-year basis new orders excluding transportation equipment are up just 1.4 percent. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, which is used to evaluate the near-term outlook in equipment and software investment, fell 2.7 percent in February. Shipments of durable goods, which are up 4.7 percent over the past year, rose 1.0 percent in February, more than reversing a 0.7 percent decrease in January. Perhaps more encouraging is that shipments of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, which map directly into GDP, rose 1.9 percent in February. On a year-over-year basis, shipments of nondefense cap goods excluding aircraft are up 3.5 percent.
  • 03.26.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In January, the 10- and 20-city S&P Case-Shiller housing price indexes posted positive gains of 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent on a monthly basis and gains of 7.3 percent and 8.1 percent annually. This represents the largest annual improvement to both composites since summer 2006. Nine cities showed positive monthly gains and all 20 MSAs experienced positive growth over the past 12 months. While both composites are still roughly 30 percent below their 2006 peaks, they have risen approximately 9 percent since their early 2012 trough. Overall home prices are back to autumn 2003 levels.

    From December to January, the FHFA housing price index rose 0.6 percent and 6.5 percent since January 2012. Regional monthly price changes were minimal, but annually all divisions showed positive growth and the Pacific and Mountain divisions posted double digit gains. Overall prices of homes that are owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are back to autumn 2004 levels.

  • 03.26.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 4.6 percent in February, but are up 12.3 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 411,000 units sold. Regionally, the Northeast experienced the sharpest declines, down 13.3 percent for the month and 10.3 percent annually. The median sales price rose roughly three percent on a monthly and annual basis to $246,800. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale ticked up to 152,000 units, representing a 4.4 month supply at the current sales pace.
  • 03.21.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales slipped 0.2 percent in February, but are up 8.7 percent annually to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.36 million units sold. Monthly growth rates ranged from a decline of 3.7 percent in the Northeast to an increase of 2.9 percent in the West. Annually, all regions showed positive growth. The median sales prices rose 1.6 percent in February, and are up 11.3 percent over the past 12 months. The inventory of available homes for sale rose 6.3 percent and the monthly supply of homes rose 7 percent. Meanwhile, both the inventory and supply of homes at the current sales pace continue to post strong declines, down 19.2 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively.
  • 03.19.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • In February, the groundbreaking of new single-family homes rose 0.5 percent for the month and 25.5 percent over the past 12 months to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 600,000 units. Regionally, the Northeast lead with housing starts rising 20.4 percent in February and 18.0 percent since February 2012. While the West and Midwest posted small monthly declines, all regions made positive annual gains. The authorization of single-family home building permits rose 2.7 percent in February and increased 31.5 percent since this time last year to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 618,000 permits. The completion of new single-family homes rose to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 547,000, which is a 3.6 percent increase for the month and 32.9 percent annually. When more building permits are issued than residences completed, the industry is perceived to be expanding, and this expansion has been underway for ten months (since May 2012).
  • 03.15.2013
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased 0.7 percent (nonannualized) in February, following no change in January. The near-term trend (three-month annualized percent change) slowed from 7.6 percent in January to 4.1 percent; on a year-over-year basis, overall production is up 2.5 percent. Manufacturing production jumped 0.8 percent for the month while the year-over-year growth rate rests at 2.0 percent. Breaking down the manufacturing sector, durable and nondurable goods increased 1.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Within durable goods manufacturing, motor vehicles and parts posted the largest increase, jumping 3.2 percent in February which helps to offset January’s decline of 4.9 percent. Fabricated metals also posted a notable increase in output following a sluggish fourth quarter, rising 2.0 percent. Overall capacity utilization jumped 0.4 percentage points to 79.6 percent of capacity which is now 0.6 percentage points below is long run average.
  • 03.15.2013
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Preliminary numbers show that The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped to 71.8 in early March from a slightly upwardly revised 77.6 in February. This release was peppered with trend-bending results. For starters, the fewest consumers in decades anticipated that their finances would improve during the year ahead, as evidenced by an 11-point drop in the index’s Expected Personal Finances component. Also, unlike the more favorable employment prospects that consumers held over the past year, they now expect net increases in the national unemployment rate. This is reflected in the drop in the Economic Outlook component from 87 to 70. In addition, just 20 percent of surveyed consumers expected their financial situation to improve during the year ahead. This was the lowest figure ever recorded, matching the lows first recorded in 1979 and 1980. When asked about the outlook for their finances over the next five years, just 33 percent of all consumers expected to be better off, the lowest level ever recorded. Finally, a new all-time record number of consumers made unfavorable references to government economic policies when they were asked to describe in their own words what economic news they had recently heard. In early March, 34 percent made unfavorable references to government economic policies, up from the prior record of 31 percent in January.

    As for inflation expectations, consumers in early March expected a year-ahead inflation rate of 3.3 percent and a longer-term (5- to 10-year) rate of 2.9 percent.

  • 03.14.2013
  • Current Account
  • In the fourth quarter of 2012, the U.S. current account deficit contracted to −$110.4 billion, a $2.0 billion decrease from the third quarter’s revised −$112.4 billion deficit (−$107.5 billion, previously). The fourth quarter’s narrowing marks the third consecutive quarter of contractions in the current account deficit. As a percent of GDP, the current account remained unchanged at 2.8 percent—the smallest ratio since the fourth quarter of 2009. Both imports and exports of goods, services and income increase with the former climbing more than the latter to drive the contraction in the overall deficit. Imports of goods, services, and income expanded $4.8 billion to a level of —$816.4 billion, while exports climbed $7.1 billion to a level of $740.3 billion.
  • 03.14.2013
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose at an annualized rate of 8.3 percent in February, only the second increase in five months. On a year-over-year basis the PPI is still up 1.7 percent. Producer prices for finished consumer foods in February fell 6.9 percent following an increase of 7.4 percent in January. On the other hand, Energy prices sharply increased 42.5 percent following four consecutive monthly declines. Year-over-year energy prices increased 1.1 percent since last February. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, “core” PPI rose 2.0 percent during the month and is up 1.7 percent year-over-year. At earlier stages of production, core intermediate good prices rose 8.4 percent (highest increase since March 2012) and core crude prices decreased 18.6 percent.
  • 03.13.2013
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices increased 1.1 percent in February after rising 0.7 percent in January. February’s gain is more than double the 0.5 percent consensus forecasts. Petroleum prices, up 5.2 percent, were the main driver of the gain in the overall index. Nonpetroleum import prices remained unchanged in February after posting 0.1 percent increases in January and December. On a year-over-year basis, import prices fell −0.3 percent, marking the fourth consecutive month of losses. Nonpetroleum import prices ticked up 0.2 percent compared to last year while petroleum prices continued to post year over year losses. Declining −1.4 percent year-over-year, petroleum prices marked ten consecutive months of losses. After weak prices in November and December, February’s report maintains some of the strength seen in January. Most of the gain, however, is driven by petroleum which can be prone to large swings.

    Export prices increased 0.8 percent in February after increasing 0.3 percent in January. On a year-over-year basis, export prices advanced 1.5 percent marking the fifth consecutive month of yearly gains.

  • 03.13.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased at a nonannualized rate of 1.1 percent in February, year-over-year retail sales are up 4.6 percent. Auto sales increased 1.1 percent in February, following a decrease in January of 0.4 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 1.0 percent, over the past 12 months. Retail sales excluding autos are up 3.9 percent. Contributing to the monthly gain in total sales were improvements for gasoline stations (up 5.0 percent), miscellaneous store retailers (up 1.8 percent), non-store retailers (up 1.6 percent), and grocery stores (up 0.7 percent). Gasoline station sales increased due to high gasoline prices and contributed nearly half of the growth in total sales, retail sales excluding gasoline station sales rose just 0.6 percent. Sectors that saw the largest declines in February were furniture and home furnishing stores (down 1.6 percent), sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (down 1.0 percent), and food service and drinking places (down 0.7 percent). A less volatile indicator of sales growth, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) increased 0.4 percent in February, and are up 3.8 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 03.08.2013
  • The Employment Situation
  • Total nonfarm payrolls improved by 236,000 in February, coming in well above consensus forecasts. Revisions to prior months, on net, subtracted 15,000 from our previous estimates. Over the past three months, payrolls are averaging a gain of 195,000. Private payrolls advanced by 246,000 in February, compared to a downwardly revised 119,000 gain in January. Performance across broad industries was good. The largest gains were seen in construction (up 48,000) healthcare (up 32,000) and professional and business services (up 73,000). Elsewhere on the establishment side, average weekly hours ticked up slightly to 34.5, which helped to nudge average weekly earnings up to $821.79. On the household side, the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent, although the employment to population ratio was flat at 58.6 percent for the third consecutive month.
  • 03.07.2013
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity— real output per hour of all persons— was slightly revised from the preliminary estimate, decreasing at an annualized rate of 1.9 percent (revised from a 2.0 percent decline). This follows increases of 1.7 and 3.1 percent in the second and third quarters, and productivity has increased 0.5 percent over the past year, similar to the 0.4 percent improvement in 2011. Output increased 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter (revised up from 0.1 percent), while hours increased 2.5 percent (revised up from 2.2 percent), causing the overall decline in productivity. In nominal terms, hourly compensation increased 2.6 percent during the quarter. However, after controlling for price changes, real hourly compensation increased just 0.4 percent (revised up from 0.3 percent). Real compensation increased 0.2 percent in the second quarter and fell 0.9 percent in the third quarter, and on a year-over-year basis, is up 0.8 percent. Unit labor costs, which are measured as hourly compensation per hourly output, increased 4.6 percent during the fourth quarter (revised up from 4.5 percent), following declines of 0.5 and 1.9 percent in the second and third quarter, respectively, and are up 2.1 percent since the fourth quarter of 2011.
  • 03.07.2013
  • International Trade
  • In January, the U.S. trade deficit expanded by $6.3 billion to a level of $44.4 billion ($38.1 billion previously). After an unexpectedly large contraction in December due to disruptions from Superstorm Sandy, the trade deficit was predicted to expand in January. However, January’s expansion to $44.4 was above consensus forecasts, which had predicted a level of $42.6 billion. Imports expanded by 1.8 percent to a level of $228.9 billion after falling 2.6 percent last month. Exports fell 1.2 percent to a level of $184.4 billion after climbing 2.3 percent last month. The opposite movements of imports and exports lead to the overall expansion of the deficit. On a year-over-year basis, imports fell −0.9 percent after falling 2.0 percent in December 2012 and expanding 2.31 percent in November 2012. Exports continued to post yearly gains marking a 3.27 percent increase and averaging 3.9 percent growth in the past three months.
  • 03.07.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In the first month of 2013, outstanding consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 7.0 percent to $2,795 billion, adding a sixth month to a string of positive reports. Turning to the reported changes in the components of the headline number, revolving credit rose at an annual rate of 0.2 percent, and nonrevolving credit, which mainly reflects student and auto loans, increased at an annual rate of 10.0 percent. The current data release carries a revision to December’s preliminary headline number: consumer credit rose by 6.6 percent instead of the previously reported 6.3 percent.
  • 03.06.2013
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods fell $9.6 billion or 2.0 percent (nonannualized) in January, following an increase of 1.3 percent in December. Year-over-year growth rates for new orders continue to decrease from higher levels seen earlier in the recovery, increasing just 0.2 percent from last January. Excluding transportation new orders increased 1.3 percent for the month while the durable goods orders series decreased 4.9 percent and the nondurable goods orders increased 0.6 percent for the month. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders, considered a leading indicator of business investment spending, grew 7.2 percent for the month pulling its three-month annualized growth rate up from −21.1 percent in September to 45.6 percent. Shipments and unfilled orders of manufactured goods both slowed by 0.2 percent for the month. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio now rests at 6.27, roughly where it has been since late 2009 but still well above the pre-crisis average of 4.3. Inventories edged up 0.5 percent, pushing the inventory-to-sales ratio up to 1.28, roughly where it has been since late 2009.
  • 03.01.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income decreased at a nonannualized rate of 3.6 percent in January, following increases of 1.0 and 2.6 percent in November and December, respectively. The release discusses two primary reasons for January’s decline. Accelerated bonuses were paid in December in anticipation of changes in the tax structure, which inflated wage and salary disbursements, and consequently overall personal income, during that month. Additionally, the expiration of the payroll tax holiday increased contributions to government social insurance, which is subtracted from overall personal income. On a year-over-year basis, nominal personal income has increased 2.2 percent. Disposable personal income (DPI)— personal income less current taxes—decreased at a nonannualized rate of 4.0 percent during January and has increased 1.8 percent since January of 2012. However, the Bureau of Economic Analysis mentions that if those special factors are excluded, DPI likely would have increased 0.3 percent in January, compared with a similar 0.3 percent increase in December.

    After controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income also decreased 4.0 percent, following increases of 1.2 and 2.7 percent in the prior two months, and has increased just 0.6 percent since last year. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.1 percent in January following a similar increase in December. This is just slightly below average monthly gains of 0.2 percent throughout 2012, and on a year-over-year basis, consumption is up 2.0 percent. During January, consumption of durable goods fell 0.8 percent, while consumption of nondurable goods and services both increased 0.3 percent. Given the large drop in DPI and modest gain in consumption, the savings rate dropped from 6.4 percent in December to 2.4 percent in January.

  • 03.01.2013
  • PCE Price Index
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index increased at an annualized rate of 0.3 percent in January, following declines of 1.8 and 0.2 percent in the two prior months. Since January of 2012, the headline PCE price index has increased just 1.2 percent, as the year-over-year changes have been trending downward since October. Slowing growth in the headline index was a 20.9 percent decline in the price of energy goods and services, a volatile component in that index. Energy prices declined each month from November through January, and are basically flat on a year-over-year basis. Food prices, another volatile component, were flat in January following 2.5 percent increases in both November and December, respectively, and have increased 1.0 percent since last January.

    Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index increased 1.8 percent in January compared with an increase of 0.3 percent in December. The near-term (three-month) trend in monthly increases is 1.0 percent, slightly below the average monthly increase of 1.4 throughout 2012. On a year-over-year basis, “core” PCE prices have increased just 1.3 percent. The market-based “core” PCE price index, which also excludes most imputed prices, increased 2.6 percent in January, compared with increases of 0.6 and 0.3 in November and December, and has increased 1.4 percent since last year.

  • 03.01.2013
  • Construction Spending
  • Private construction spending fell in January to $614.2 billion, a 2.6 percent decrease from the upwardly revised December estimate of $630.9 billion. However, January’s results are 12.2 percent higher on a year-over-year basis. Residential construction spending was essentially unchanged over the month, at $304.6 billion. Growth in new multi-family construction spending slowed to 1.7 percent in January, but is still up 54.9 percent year-over-year. New single-family construction posted a monthly gain of 3.6 percent. Private nonresidential construction spending fell sharply to $309.7 billion, a 5.1 percent decrease from the revised December estimate of $326.2 billion. The power sector dropped 14.5 percent over the month, and the transportation sector posted its third straight month of declines, falling 1 percent since December.
  • 03.01.2013
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM report continued its upward trend and indicated that the manufacturing sector expanded in the month of February. The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increased 1.1 percent to 54.2 percent, its third consecutive month above 50 and highest level since June 2011 where it registered 55.8 percent. The report showed a strong indication of growth within the manufacturing sector as this was the second consecutive month where each of the five components of the PMI were above the growth threshold of 50. The largest mover within the PMI?s five components was new orders, which increased 4.5 percent from its January level of 53.3 percent to 57.8 percent, the second consecutive month above 50. Production also grew in February by 4.0 percent to 57.6 percent from its previous level of 53.6 percent. The other components were as follows: inventories ticked up slightly to 51.5 percent from 51.0 percent, supplier deliveries shrank 2.2 percent to 51.4 percent from 53.6 percent, and employment shrank 1.4 percent from 54.0 percent to 52.6 percent. Furthermore, backlog of orders increased 7.5 percent to 55.0 percent from 47.5 percent. The other indexes of manufacturing trade within the report also grew with exports increasing 3.0 percent to 53.5 percent and imports increasing 4.0 percent to 54.0 percent.