Data Updates

Data Updates

April 2008

  • 04.30.2008
  • Employment Cost Index
  • The Employment Cost Index (ECI) for civilian workers rose 3.0 percent (annualized rate) in the first quarter of 2008, following a 3.4 percent increase last quarter, slightly less than its ten-year average of 3.6 percent. For the first time since 2004:Q3, quarterly growth in private compensation outpaced its government counterpart, rising 3.0 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. On a year-over-year basis, the ECI remained at 3.3 percent. Wages and salaries rose 3.4 percent during the quarter, after three straight quarters of 3.1 percent increases. Benefits for civilian workers increased 2.3 percent in the first quarter, compared to 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007.
  • 04.30.2008
  • Real GDP (1Q advance)
  • Real GDP grew at an annualized rate of 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2008, the same growth rate as last quarter, according to the advance release by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While headline growth remained the same, growth among the components varied significantly. Real personal consumption increased 1.0 percent (annualized rate) in the first quarter, compared to 2.3 percent last quarter. Spending on consumer durables, which posted a small increase in 2007:Q4, fell 6.1 percent in the first quarter. Real fixed investment decreased 2.5 percent during the quarter, actually taking away 0.3 percentage point from real GDP growth, compared to an average contribution of 0.6 percentage point over the past four quarters. Residential investment continued to fall in the first quarter, dropping 26.6 percent, and is now down 21.2 percent from 2007:Q1. Inventory accumulation was the main contributor to growth this quarter, adding 0.8 percentage point to real GDP growth after a 1.5 percentage point take away last quarter. Exports continued to perform well, rising 5.5 percent in the first quarter, while imports showed a somewhat surprising gain of 2.5 percent, given the backdrop of the recent dollar depreciation and weak consumer sentiment.
  • 04.29.2008
  • S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index
  • According to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index, home prices fell 2.7 percent in February and are down 12.7 percent from a year ago, a record for the series, which begins in 2000. The 10-city index, which has a longer history, also reached a new historic low, with a 12-month growth rate of -13.6 percent. Moreover, looking at the annualized 3-, 6-, 9- and 12-month growth rates, the pace of decline in both indexes seems to be increasing rather than decreasing.
  • 04.25.2008
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • Consumer sentiment, according to April?s final report, was revised down 0.6 point from the preliminary report, slipping 6.9 points from March to an index value of 62.6. The consumer expectations component was revised down slightly, to 53.3, its lowest reading since December 1990. Short-term average inflation expectations jumped up over a full percentage point, from 4.6 in March to 5.7 in April. The movement in longer-term (5-year to 10-year) average inflation expectations was less dramatic, rising 0.3 percentage point to 3.5 percent.
  • 04.24.2008
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods fell 0.3 percent (nonannualized) in March, marking the third consecutive decrease in the series. Over the past 12 months, new orders have decreased 2.1 percent. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft were virtually unchanged in March, following a 2.0 percent decrease in February. Shipments of durable goods decreased 0.4 percent in March and have fallen 0.8 percent over the last three months. The rate of inventory accumulation increased during the month, rising 1.1 percent and bringing the 12-month growth rate to 5.1 percent.
  • 04.24.2008
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 8.5 percent in March to their lowest level since the 1991 recession. At 526 thousand units annually in March the pace of sales is down 62.1 percent from its peak in July 2005. The inventory of unsold new single-family homes relative to the current sales pace jumped up to 11 months, the third-highest level ever recorded. However, the actual number of homes on the market continued to fall in March and is down 18.3 percent from its peak in July 2006. The median sales price of new single-family homes sold in March fell 13.3 percent from a year ago.
  • 04.22.2008
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales fell 2.7 percent in March, after increasing a combined 3.5 percent in the previous two months. The growth rate in existing single-family homes, while still negative, has stabilized some of late. The six-month growth rate in sales rose to -2.2 percent in March--up from a low of -17.1 percent in August 2007. The inventory of single-family homes on the market increased slightly over the month, in terms of both units and months of supply, but is still down from its peak levels. The median sales price of existing single-family homes rose slightly in March, but the 12-month growth rate was largely unchanged at -8.3 percent.
  • 04.16.2008
  • Housing Starts
  • Total housing starts fell 11.9 percent in March, but the numbers were distorted by a 24.6 percent decline in multi-unit starts. The less volatile, single-family component of housing starts fell 5.7 percent, following a similar decline in February. The pace of decline in single-family starts has not slowed recently. While the 6-month growth rate has been fairly stable at around the −45 to −50 percent range (annualized), the 12-month growth rate reached a new low for the recent downturn of 43.6 percent in March. Permits for single-family homes, another indicator of construction activity, fell 6.2 percent in March and are off 46.4 percent from a year ago.
  • 04.16.2008
  • The Consumer Price Index
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose at an annualized rate of 4.2 percent in March, returning to its elevated trend after a brief respite in February, when it rose only 0.3 percent (annualized rate). The CPI is up 4.6 percent over the past six months. The CPI excluding food and energy (core CPI) increased only 1.8 percent during the month, contrasting the rather sizeable increase in the overall CPI. While energy prices spiked in March (up 25.9 percent), the core CPI was affected by a near 10-year record decrease in apparel prices—14.4 percent—in March. The median and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI measures, which measure underlying inflation trends, rose 3.1 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, in March. Over the past 12 months, the median CPI has increased 3.0 percent, while the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI has risen 2.8 percent.
  • 04.16.2008
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased 4.0 percent (annualized rate) in March, following an 8.5 percent decrease in February. Much of the increase was due to a 25.7 percent jump in utilities output and an 11.0 percent increase in the mining sector. Manufacturing production was virtually unchanged from February, rising only 0.6 percent during the month. Over the past 3 months, manufacturing production has fallen 1.6 percent. Total industry capacity utilization inched up slightly in March, rising from 80.3 to 80.5 percent of capacity.
  • 04.15.2008
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) jumped 13.9 percent (annualized rate) in March, following a 4.2 percent increase in February. The index's 12-month growth rate is now at 6.9 percent, its sixth consecutive month above 6 percent. Producer prices for finished goods excluding food and energy (core PPI) rose 3.0 percent during the month and have risen 5.0 percent over the past three months. Further back on the production line, both core intermediate goods prices and crude goods prices were elevated, advancing 14.0 percent and 50.6 percent, respectively.
  • 04.14.2008
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased 1.9 percent (annualized rate) in March, following a revised 4.2 percent decrease in February. The 12-month growth rate in total sales has fallen to 2.0 percent, the lowest since November 2002. Retail sales excluding motor vehicles and parts increased 1.7 percent during the month. Losses at furniture and home furnishing stores were not a severe as they have been over the past three months, falling 4.0 percent in March compared to an average decline of 15.6 percent over the prior three months. Sales at building materials, garden equipment, and supply dealers fell 17.7 percent in March, bringing the 12-month growth rate to a record low of -6.9 percent. Sales at food services and drinking places increased 3.6 percent in March, following declines of 2.4 percent in February and 3.0 percent in January.
  • 04.11.2008
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices surged ahead in March, rising 39.0 percent (annualized rate), following a 1.9 percent increase in February. Over the past three months, import prices are up 19.2 percent. In addition to a substantial spike in petroleum imports (up 183 percent at an annualized rate), nonpetroleum imports posted their largest increase on record, rising 13.9 percent during the month. Nonpetroleum import prices have shot up 5.4 percent over the last 12 months. Export prices, bolstered by weakness in the dollar, continued their recent upswing, rising 19.2 percent in March after increases of 13.7 percent in February and 15.0 percent in January. Since the beginning of the year, export prices have risen 16.0 percent.
  • 04.11.2008
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan?s Index of Consumer Sentiment slipped another 6.3 points in April, falling to 63.2, a level consistent with past recessionary episodes. The consumer expectations component fell to 53.4, its lowest reading since December 1990. Short-term average inflation expectations jumped up a full percentage point from 4.6 in March to 5.6 in April. The movement in longer-term (5-year to 10-year) average inflation expectations was less dramatic, rising 0.2 percentage point to 3.4 percent.
  • 04.10.2008
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit increased $3.4 billion in February following a $1.1 billion increase in January. Export growth remained strong, increasing 2.0 percent in February to bring the 12-month growth rate in exports up to 20.8 percent, the fastest growth in exports since the series began in 1992. Import growth increased 3.1 percent in February, outpacing even the rapid increase in exports. The major growth on the import side came from consumer goods, automotive goods, and capital goods. Imports of petroleum goods fell 5.4 percent.
  • 04.04.2008
  • The Employment Report
  • Nonfarm payroll employment continued to deteriorate, falling 80,000 in March, after a downwardly revised 76,000 job loss in February. Over the past three months, nonfarm payrolls have decreased by 232,000. Employment losses in goods-producing industries accelerated during the month, falling by 93,000 jobs after decreases of 82,000 and 69,000 in February and January, respectively. Construction employment fell by 51,000 jobs in March, while the manufacturing industry cut 48,000 workers from its payrolls. The service sector—bolstered by job gains in health care (+22,800), food services (+23,400), and local government (+13,000)—showed a net gain of 13,000 workers. While there were some minor losses elsewhere in the service sector, employment services were hit the hardest, trimming 41,800 workers in March.
  • 04.02.2008
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods surprised expectations of a 0.8 percent decrease, by falling 1.7 percent (nonannualized rate) in February, following a 2.3 percent drop in January. New orders for nondefense capital goods (excluding aircraft) decreased 2.4 percent during the month. Shipments of manufactured goods fell 1.0 percent in February, but are 1.3 percent over the last 6 months. Inventories continued to accumulate in February, rising 0.5 percent, and are up 5.5 percent over the 12 months.
  • 04.01.2008
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM manufacturing index remained in contractionary territory for the second straight month, although the diffusion index rose 0.3 point to 48.6 in March. While the employment and supplier deliveries components improved during the month, the new orders and production components decreased. The new orders component fell 2.6 points to 46.5 in March, its lowest reading since 2001. The production index slipped into contractionary territory, decreasing 2.0 points to 48.7. The prices paid index jumped 8.0 points to 83.5, as manufacturers continue to face significant price pressure.
  • 04.01.2008
  • Construction Spending
  • Total private construction spending fell 0.5 percent in February, after declining in excess of 1.0 percent in three of the previous four months. Private residential construction fell 0.9 percent over the course of the month, its smallest decline since April 2007. The nonresidential side fell for the third consecutive month, albeit a meager 0.1 percent, after increasing in 28 of the previous 29 months.