Data Updates

Data Updates

July 2008

  • 07.31.2008
  • Real GDP Growth, 2008:Q2
  • The advance estimate for second-quarter real GDP growth came in at 1.9 percent. By far, the largest contributor to the second quarter’s growth was net exports, which were boosted by a 2.2 percent increase in exports and a 1.7 percent decrease in imports. Personal consumption expenditures increased 0.4 percent in the second quarter, up from a 0.2 percent increase in the first quarter. Business fixed investment was largely unchanged at it expanded 0.6 percent in both the first and the second quarter. Residential investment continued to decline, falling 4.2 percent in the second quarter (which was up from a 6.9 percent drop in the first quarter). Government spending added to the higher GDP growth in the second quarter, as it increased 0.9 percent (compared to 0.5 percent in the first quarter). Finally, there was a substantial decrease in inventories in the second quarter, which helped to lower the overall GDP figure. Also contained in this release was the BEA’s annual benchmark revision, which affects data back to 2005. GDP growth in both 2005 and 2006 was revised down slightly from 3.1 percent to 2.8 percent and from 2.9 percent to 2.8 percent, respectively. The more interesting revision occurred in 2007, where the first quarter was revised down from 0.6 percent growth to 0.05 percent growth, and the fourth quarter was revised down from 0.6 percent to −0.2 percent. With the revision, the fourth quarter of 2007 marks the first outright decline in real GDP since 2001.
  • 07.31.2008
  • The Employment Cost Index
  • The employment cost index (ECI) for civilian workers rose an annualized 2.6 percent in the second quarter of 2008, following a 3.0 percent gain in the previous quarter. The 12-month growth rate in the civilian worker ECI declined from 3.3 percent to 3.0 percent. Civilian wage and salary growth increased an annualized 3.0 percent over the quarter, compared to a 3.4 percent increase in the previous quarter. Benefits for civilian workers increase an annualized 3.3 percent for the second straight quarter.
  • 07.29.2008
  • Housing Prices
  • Both the 10-city composite and the 20-city composite S&P/Case–Shiller home price indexes, which are available on a monthly frequency, continued to decline in May. Neither series is seasonally adjusted, so looking at the 1-month percent change provides limited information, but nonetheless, both the 20-city composite and the 10-city composite had their smallest monthly decline in eight months. The 12-month growth rates in both home price indexes declined to new-record lows in May at -15.8 percent and -16.9 percent, respectively. However, the report contains a hint of a potentially positive trend: The 12-month growth rates of both indexes appear to be declining at slower rates than in recent months. That being said, it still remains too early to tell whether or not this marks a potential bottoming out in home prices.
  • 07.25.2008
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods increased 0.8 percent (nonannualized) in June, following a slight gain of 0.1 percent in May. However, on a year-over-year basis, durable goods are still down 1.1 percent. Nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a proxy for nonresidential investment, rose 1.4 percent in June and are up 4.4 percent over the past three months. Both shipments and inventories increased, each rising 0.5 percent during the month.
  • 07.25.2008
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales fell 0.6 percent in June, following a 1.7 percent decline in May. The small decline helped the 12-month growth rate in sales increase slightly from −37.8 percent to −33.2 percent. Sales in both the Northeast and the Midwest saw improvements in June, but were more than offset by moderate declines in the much larger South and West. The number of new single-family homes for sale in June fell 5.3 percent, the largest decline in this measure of inventory since 1963 and bringing the 12-month growth rate in inventory down to −21.5, its lowest level on record. Despite the rapid decline in new single-family homes, on-the-market inventories remain elevated when compared to the current sales pace.
  • 07.25.2008
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment showed tentative signs of improvement, jumping up 4.8 points to 61.2 in July, as both the current conditions and consumer expectations components improved modestly. Whether or not this increase is just a momentary blip or the beginning of a rebound remains to be seen. What is certain is that the current confidence level is still below the levels seen during the last recession, indicative of slower consumer spending in the months ahead. One-year-ahead average inflation expectations improved in July, falling 0.2 percentage point to 6.3 percent. Longer-term expectations (5-10 years ahead) dropped 0.5 percentage point to 3.5 percent.
  • 07.24.2008
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Total existing home sales fell 2.6 percent in June, negating May’s 2.0 percent increase. The often less-volatile single-family component of the series fell by 3.2 percent in June, reversing a 1.6 percent gain in May. Even with June’s declines, both the total and single-family sales series have shown noticeable stability in recent months. What remains to be seen is whether this stability marks the trough of the decline or if this is simply another period similar to August 2006-February 2007, when sales looked to have turned a corner only to suddenly enter another period of rapid decline. Inventories of homes for sale, both in terms of houses on the market and months of supply at the current sales pace, increased to their highest levels yet this cycle.
  • 07.17.2008
  • Housing Starts and Permits
  • Total housing starts increased 9.1 percent in June, but the numbers were distorted by a 42.5 percent increase in the volatile multi-unit component. The single-family series, which tends to be less volatile while still following the overall trend in starts, declined 5.3 percent in June, after a negligible increase in May. The decline brought the 12-month growth rate in single-family starts to -43.0 percent, just above April’s cyclical low of 43.2 percent. Data on permits were also distorted by a large increase in the multi-unit component: The overall series rose 11.6 percent, while the single-family series fell 3.5 percent. The 12-month growth rate in permits was virtually unchanged at 39.7 percent. Note: The large increase in multi-unit starts and permits was reported to be the result of a change in New York City building code.
  • 07.16.2008
  • CPI
  • The CPI rose at an annualized rate of 13.4 percent in June, pushed up by a 116.3 percent spike in energy prices and a 9.6 percent increase in food prices, bringing its 12–month growth rate to 5.0 percent. The core CPI rose 3.9 percent during the month, its largest monthly increase since November 2001. Both the median and trimmed–mean measures were elevated as well, rising 4.6 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively. Over the past 12 months, the median CPI has increased 3.1 percent, while the 16 percent trimmed–mean measure is up 3.2 percent. Digging deeper into the price change distribution, we see that nearly two–thirds of the CPI's components increased at rates exceeding 3.0 percent, with 45 percent rising at rates greater than 5.0 percent.
  • 07.16.2008
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased 6.0 percent in June, coming in stronger than expectations. The production gains were led by a 28.2 percent increase in utilities output and a 13.4 percent jump in mining output. Manufacturing production increased 2.3 percent during the month, getting a somewhat surprising boost from motor vehicle output (most likely bumped up by the end of the GM strike). Over the past year, overall industrial production is up 0.3 percent, while output from the manufacturing sector has fallen 0.6 percent.
  • 07.15.2008
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales were virtually flat in June, rising just 0.8 percent (at an annualized rate), following a downwardly revised (but still relatively large) 10.4 percent in May. Over the past three months, retail sales are up 4.5 percent. Auto sales fell 35.4 percent during the month and were a significant drag on the overall number, as retail sales excluding autos rose 10.6 percent. Sales at grocery stores rose 7.8 percent in June, likely driven by price effects and some substitution away from spending at food and drinking places—which decreased 2.8 percent. Gasoline station sales increased 71.1 percent during the month on higher gas prices and have increased 24.5 percent over the past year. Elsewhere, gains were relatively broad-based, as retail sales excluding auto, building supplies, and gasoline station sales rose 4.1 percent in June, following an 8.4 percent increase last month.
  • 07.15.2008
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) jumped up 23.8 percent (annualized rate) in June, following a meager 17.6 percent spike in May. Energy and food components pushed up the overall PPI, rising 101.4 percent and 19.9 percent, respectively. Over the past 12 months the PPI has increased 9.1 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PPI rose 2.9 percent during the month, while its 12-month growth rate ticked up to 3.1 percent. Further back on the production line, core intermediate-goods prices increased 16.4 percent, while core crude-goods prices decreased 2.8 percent in June.
  • 07.11.2008
  • Import Prices
  • Import prices show no signs of a slowdown, rising 36.5 percent (annualized rate) in June, following an upwardly revised 36.4 percent jump in May. Over the past three months, import prices are up 37.6 percent. While petroleum import prices—up 136.0 percent in June—continue to exacerbate price gains in the overall index, nonpetroleum imports jumped 11.1 percent during the month. Nonpetroleum import prices have shot up 7.3 percent over the past 12 months. Export prices, which have averaged increases of 7.3 percent over the past three months, rose 12.2 percent in June.
  • 07.11.2008
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit decreased $0.7 billion in May, following a $4.0 billion dollar increase in April. Export growth slowed from April’s 3.7 percent rate, rising only 0.9 percent in May, but still outpaced a 0.3 percent increase in imports. Import growth was mixed across categories, with food, feeds, and beverages, and consumer goods showing the largest increases at 3.6 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively. Export growth was also mixed across categories, with the largest gain coming from a 3.8 percent increase in exports of industrial supplies and materials. The trade deficit peaked about two years ago at $67.0 billion but has been fairly steady over the past 20 months at around $60 billion; it currently sits at $59.8 billion.
  • 07.11.2008
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment showed signs of leveling off, ticking up 0.2 point to 56.6 in July. Over the past 12 months, the index has plummeted 33.8 points, its sharpest drop since the series was created. The current conditions component improved somewhat, rising to 69.5 from 67.6 last month. Consumer expectations continue to fall however, and (at 48.3) are the lowest seen since May 1980. One-year ahead average inflation expectations ticked up 0.4 percentage point to 6.9 percent in July, while longer-term (5-10 years ahead) expectations fell 0.2 percentage point to 3.8 percent.
  • 07.03.2008
  • Employment Report
  • Nonfarm payroll employment fell by 62,000 in June, its sixth consecutive monthly decline. The only other time nonfarm payrolls have strung together this many consecutive monthly decreases not encompassed by a NBER-dated recession was during World War II (from December 1943 to September 1944). Since the beginning of the year, nonfarm payrolls have trimmed 438,000 jobs. Employment in the goods–producing industry fell by 69,000 in June, with construction losing 43,000 jobs and manufacturing trimming 33,000 (natural resource and logging gained 7,000). Private service–providing payrolls decreased by 22,000 during the month, following a loss of 37,000 in May, with the largest decrease coming from employment services (−58,900). Education, health, leisure, and hospitality services combined to add 53,000 in June.
  • 07.02.2008
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.6 percent (nonannualized rate) in May, following a 1.3 percent increase in April. New orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 0.4 percent during the month but are up 2.4 percent over the past 12 months. Shipments for all manufacturing industries were flat in May, and unfilled orders ticked up 0.9 percent. Inventories increased 0.5 percent in May, after remaining virtually unchanged in April, and are up 6.1 percent over the past 12 months.
  • 07.01.2008
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM manufacturing index rose 0.6 points to 50.2 in June, rising above the threshold of 50 (which indicates that the manufacturing economy is expanding, according to the ISM), after four consecutive months of contraction. The overall ISM diffusion index gives equal weights to five subindexes: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories. The increase in the overall ISM index in June was mostly due to an increase in the inventories index of 6.7 percent (nonannualized) to a value of 51.2, combined with a 2.6 percent increase in supplier deliveries. The new orders and production indexes were virtually unchanged during the month, while the employment index dropped 1.8 points to 43.7, its lowest index value since May 2003. The ISM also constructs indexes that do not factor into the composite manufacturing index, such as the prices index (not seasonally adjusted), which jumped 4.5 points to 91.5 in June (nearing the series high it reached in July 1979 of 93.2).
  • 07.01.2008
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction expenditures fell 0.4 percent in May, as public construction expenditures increased 0.4 percent and offset a portion of the 0.7 percent decline in private construction. Since April 2006, when private construction spending began to fall, spending has fallen an average of 0.8 percent per month and is down a total of 18.5 percent. Private residential construction spending continued to fall in May, declining 1.6 percent over the month, slightly better than the −2.2 percent average monthly decline it’s seen since April 2006. Private nonresidential construction rose 0.2 percent in May, its fifth consecutive month of growth and twentieth in the past two years. The Census Bureau revised the way it calculates the construction expenditures series. Private residential construction spending no longer includes improvements on rental, vacant, or seasonal properties. Improvements on owner occupied homes are still included. The revision, which affects data back to 1993, lowers the level of spending but does not materially affect any of the recent trends.