Data Updates

Data Updates

August 2009

  • 08.28.2009
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income was virtually unchanged in July, following an upwardly revised 1.1 percent decrease in June. However, that pattern reflects some lingering effects from the ARRA stimulus. Excluding those transfers, personal income rose 0.1 percent in July and increased 0.2 percent in June. Over the past 12 months, personal income is down 2.4 percent. Disposable personal income was flat in July, after June’s 1.1 percent decrease, putting the 12-month growth rate at -0.3 percent. Real (inflation-adjusted) personal consumption expenditures rose 0.2 percent in July, as durable goods spending jumped up 1.8 percent—driven mostly by the CARS program. Spending on nondurables fell for the fifth consecutive month, slipping down 0.3 percent in July. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable income continued to retreat from a recent high of 6.0 percent in May, sliding down to 4.2 percent in July, but it is still well above the savings rate seen at the beginning of the recession (1.4 percent).
  • 08.28.2009
  • Personal Consumption Expenditures
  • The PCE price index rose just 0.4 percent (annualized rate) in July, following an energy-price-induced 6.7 percent jump in June. Year-over-year, PCE prices are down 0.8 percent (an all-time low). Excluding food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.2 percent during the month, following a 1.9 percent increase in June. Over the past 12 months, the core PCE has risen just 1.4 percent. It is worth noting that durable goods prices slipped down 5.6 percent, having been affected by the CARS rebates on new vehicles.
  • 08.28.2009
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumer Sentiment was revised up to an index value of 65.7 in August, up from an initial estimate of 63.2. Sentiment has retrenched slightly from June’s recent high of 70.8, though it is still well above the current cyclical low of 55.3 reached in November. The components of overall consumer sentiment moved in opposite directions in August. Current economic conditions slipping from 70.5 in July to 66.6, while the index of consumer expectations improved from 63.2 last month to 65.0 currently. One-year average inflation expectations slipped to 3.0 percent in August from 3.6 percent in July. Longer-term (5- to 10-year ahead) average expectations decreased 0.3 percentage point to 3.1 percent in August, but they are still within a range that is considered “normal” for the series.
  • 08.27.2009
  • Real GDP
  • Real GDP was virtually unchanged during the second quarter revision, falling at an annualized rate of −1.0 percent according to the “second” estimate. While the headline number was unchanged, there were some interesting moves in the components. Upward revisions to exports, residential investment, consumption, and government spending were roughly offset by downward adjustments to inventories and business fixed investment. Nonresidential investment in structures was revised down from an 8.8 percent decrease to a 15.1 percent decline, helping to pull the growth rate in overall BFI down by 2.0 percentage points to −10.9 percent (which is still a substantial improvement over the first quarter’s 39.2 percent decrease). The downward revision to inventories subtracted an additional 0.6 percentage point from real GDP growth, but may imply more of a contribution to growth in the third quarter (assuming a tapering off in the inventory contraction). The consumer’s side looked a little less dismal after the revision. Real personal consumption was revised up from −1.2 percent to −1.0 percent in the second quarter, adding 0.2 percentage point to output growth. Also, residential investment was revised up from −29.3 percent to −22.8 percent, and looks to be less of a drag given the recent indicators on housing.
  • 08.26.2009
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods jumped up 4.9 percent (nonannualized) in July, rebounding from a 1.3 percent decrease in June, and posting its largest gain since July 2007. July’s gain in orders was largely driven by an outsized spike in nondefense aircraft (up 107.2 percent). New orders excluding transportation equipment rose 0.9 percent during the month, following two monthly decreases. Nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft—a measure some use as a leading indicator for business investment—retrenched slightly in July, slipping 0.3 percent after a 3.6 percent gain in June and a 4.3 percent increase in May. Over the past 12-months, the series is still down considerably (−21.6 percent), though it has improved from its current cyclical low of −26.0 percent in April. Shipments rose 2.0 percent in July as increases were relatively broad-based. Shipments have now posted back-to-back gains after ten consecutive monthly decreases. Manufacturers of durables trimmed inventories for the seventh straight month, posting a 0.8 percent cut in July. The inventories-to-shipments ratio fell from 1.87 months in June to 1.81 months in July, though still elevated relative to historical norms.
  • 08.26.2009
  • New Home Sales
  • New single-family home sales jumped up 9.6 percent in July to an annualized sales pace of 433,000 units, following another strong 9.1 percent increase in June. While the 12-month growth rate in sales is down 13.4 percent, over the last six months the series is up 31.6 percent at an annualized pace. The number of new homes for sale continued to decline in July, falling 9,000 units or 3.2 percent. With the concurrent increase in the sales pace and the decrease in inventories, the months’ supply of single family homes fell by an entire month to 7.5 months. While still high relative to historical standards, the level of inventory relative to the sales pace has fallen 4.9 months from an all-time high of 12.4 months in January.
  • 08.25.2009
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 1.4 percent in the second quarter after falling by a record 6.8 percent in the first quarter, marking the index’s first increase since 2006. Home prices rose on a year-over-year basis for the first time since the third quarter of 2006, rising from −19.1 percent to −14.9 percent. The monthly data also showed improvement, with the 10- and 20-city indexes advancing for the first time since May 2006, both at a rate of 0.7 percent. This helped boost the 12-month growth rate to −15.1 percent for the 10-city index and −15.4 percent for the 20-city index, up nearly two percentage points.

    The FHFA Purchase-Only House Price Index advanced 0.5 percent in June and has been fluctuating in and out of positive territory since January. The series’ 12-month growth rate now stands at −4.9 percent, up a percentage point from May and a low of −8.9 percent in November 2008. On a quarterly basis the total FHFA index, which includes data from refinancing transactions, dropped 2.4 percent after slight gains in the previous two quarters, causing the four-quarter growth rate to match its 40-year all-time low of −4.0 percent. The quarterly purchase-only index decreased at roughly the same 0.7 percent pace in the second quarter, but out-performed every quarter in 2008. This lifted the four-quarter growth rate from −7.1 percent to −6.1percent.

  • 08.21.2009
  • Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales jumped 6.5 percent in July to an annual sales pace of 4.6 million units, the highest level since August 2007. July marks the fourth straight gain in sales and the largest month-over-month percentage increase since January 2002. The large increase likely has much to do with first-time home buyers rushing to qualify for the tax credit before the December 1 deadline. The 12-month growth rate in sales climbed to 5.0 percent, its second month in positive territory and up considerably from its cyclical low of −23.7 percent in February 2008. The number of existing single-family homes for sale increased 3.1 percent in July, but the increase in the sales pace lowered the months of supply from 8.9 to 8.6 months, the lowest level since April 2007. The median sales price of existing single-family homes, which is not seasonally adjusted, dropped 2.0 percent in July after rising 9.6 percent the previous two months. The 12-month growth rate in the median sales price managed to improve slightly to −14.6 percent but still sits near its record low of −16.8 percent in April 2009.
  • 08.18.2009
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts increased a slightly (1.7 percent in July) and have not posted a decline in the past five months. Although July’s increase of 8,000 units is a slowdown from gains in the previous few months, the 12-month growth rate in single-family starts improved to −22.5 percent, the best it has been since June 2007, and up from its trough of −53.3 percent in January 2009. Single-family starts have increased 37.3 percent since January’s trough. At an annual pace of 490 units, however, the current pace of starts is still just 44 percent of the average annual rate from 1985 to 2000. Total housing starts, which are typically more volatile than the single series, decreased for the first time in three months by 1.0 percent. Permits for single-family homes increased 5.8 percent in July, their fourth consecutive increase. Permits have increased 34 percent since their trough in January.
  • 08.18.2009
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods fell at an annualized rate of 9.9 percent in July following three monthly increases, including June’s large jump of 23.3 percent. Producer prices are down 6.4 percent over the past year, marking the lowest 12-month growth rate since records began in 1948. The downturn in finished goods prices was broad-based, with energy prices down 25.2 percent in July, prices for consumer foods 16.9 percent lower, and the index for goods other than food and energy (core PPI) down 1.4 percent over the month. The 12-month growth rate in the core PPI dropped 0.8 percentage point to 2.6 percent. Core intermediate goods prices rose for the second month, increasing 2.8 percent in July, and core crude goods prices rose 41.6 percent.
  • 08.14.2009
  • CPI
  • The CPI was virtually unchanged in July, rising at an annualized rate of 0.1 percent, as slight decreases in food and energy components were roughly balanced out by a 1.1 percent increase in the core CPI. Over the past 12 months, the CPI has fallen 2.1 percent (its lowest value since 1949), while the core CPI is up 1.5 percent. Increases in new vehicles (up 5.9 percent), tobacco (+30.3 percent), medical care services (+3.4 percent), and women’s and girl’s apparel prices (+15.8 percent) contributed to the increase in core CPI. There was also a curious jump in airline fares, up 28.5 percent in July, after 10 consecutive monthly decreases. As mentioned last month, the severity of the business cycle seems to have “trumped” the usual seasonal adjustment for apparel prices (and perhaps new vehicle prices as well), leading to an overstatement in seasonally adjusted price increases for those goods. This, in turn, may be causing a slight upward bias to core CPI. Both of the measure produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—rose just 0.2 percent in July. Over the past 12 months, the 16 percent trimmed-mean is up only 1.1 percent, while the median has increased 1.8 percent. Nearly half of the overall index exhibited price decreases in July; excluding food and energy items, that percentage only declined to 34.1 percent. On the other side of the distribution, just 15 percent of the consumers’ market-basket rose in excess of 5 percent, leaving just 18 percent of the index in the broad “sweet-spot” between 1 percent and 3 percent. It is also worth noting that both OER and rent of primary residence were nearly unchanged and actually fell ever-so-slightly at an annualized rate, decreasing 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. OER has turned negative in only one other instance since 1983, falling 0.8 percent in September 1992. The 12-month growth rate in OER is at a series low of 1.7 percent.
  • 08.14.2009
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased 6.7 percent (annualized rate) in July, after eight consecutive monthly declines. The increase was enough to lift its 12-month growth rate off of its current cyclical low of −13.6 percent in June to −13.1 percent in July. The rebound was largely due to a huge spike in motor vehicle and parts production, as plants came back on line and the Administration’s CARS program got underway. Excluding autos, manufacturing production rose 1.9 percent during the month. While mining output jumped up 9.7 percent in July, utilities production fell 25.7 percent (the release pointed to “unseasonably mild temperatures” as the cause for the decrease in energy production). The capacity utilization rate rose from 68.1 percent in June to 68.5 percent in July, but it is still down 12.1 percentage points since the start of the recession.
  • 08.14.2009
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumer Sentiment slipped down by 2.8 points to an index level of 63.2 in August, according to the preliminary estimate. Sentiment has retrenched from June’s recent high of 70.8, though it is still well above the current cyclical low of 55.3 reached in November. Losses were seen in both components of sentiment in July, though the decline in the current economic conditions component was much more pronounced (roughly 6 points). One-year average inflation expectations fell sharply in August, down to 2.9 percent from 3.6 percent in July. However, the median one-year ahead expectations just ticked down from 2.9 percent in July to 2.8 percent currently. Longer-term (5-to-10 year ahead) average expectations decreased 0.2 percentage point to 3.2 percent in August.
  • 08.13.2009
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales were virtually flat in July, falling 0.1 percent (−0.7 percent annualized rate) in July. Its 3-month annualized growth rate stands at −6.9 percent, slightly worse than the series has performed over the past year (−6.1 percent). Losses were fairly widespread during the month, with the largest decreases coming from building material and supply stores and gasoline stations, both down 2.1 percent (nonannualized). Motor vehicle and parts dealers likely got a sizable bump from the Administration’s Cash-for-Clunkers program, as sales rose 2.4 percent in July. Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales fell 0.6 percent in July, its sharpest decrease since March, and is down to a new cyclical low of −8.5 percent over the past year. One of the addenda measures meant to get at “core” retail sales—sales ex autos, building supplies, and gas stations—fell 0.2 percent in July, pulling its 12-month growth rate down to −3.3 percent.
  • 08.13.2009
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices, after five monthly increases, fell 0.7 percent (nonannualized) in July, pulling its 12-month growth rate down to −19.3 percent. While a large part of the overall decrease was due to falling petroleum prices (−2.8 percent in July), nonpetroleum imports decreased 0.2 percent during the month. The year-over-year percent change in nonpetroleum import prices stands at −7.3 percent, a precipitous drop given that the series was up 7.8 percent just a year ago. Export prices also declined in July, falling 0.3 percent after a 1.0 percent jump in June. The headline decrease was due to a 4.9 percent drop in agricultural prices, as nonagricultural prices rose for the fourth straight month, increasing 0.2 percent.
  • 08.12.2009
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit widened by $1.0 billion to $27.0 billion in June, after a $2.8 billion decrease in May that left the deficit at its lowest level since 1999. Still, the nominal deficit has improved dramatically since it reached a recent high of $64.9 billion in July 2008. Much of this improvement has come as gross trade flows were in a free-fall. Over the past year, exports are down 22 percent, while imports are off by 31 percent. However, June marks the first month in a year that both imports and exports increased, rising 2.3 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively. Additionally, the annualized three-month growth rates in both series crossed over into positive territory for the first time since August of last year, consistent with other data signaling that the economy may be improving from the depths of the recession.
  • 08.11.2009
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity jumped up at an annualized rate of 6.4 percent in the second quarter, its largest gain since the third quarter of 2003. The rise in productivity was due to hours worked declining faster that output in the second quarter, falling 7.6 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. Over the past four quarters, productivity is up 1.8 percent. Hourly compensation rose 0.2 percent in the second quarter, though after adjusting for inflation, “real” compensation fell 1.1 percent. The combination of rising productivity and flat compensation growth pushed unit labor costs—a measure some use to track the onset of inflationary pressures—down 5.8 percent, following a 2.7 percent decrease in the first quarter. Over the past year, unit labor costs have fallen 0.6 percent, posting a negative growth rate for the first time since the second quarter of 2004.

    This release incorporated the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s comprehensive revision to the NIPAs. As a result, productivity in the first quarter of 2009 was revised down from 1.6 percent to 0.3 percent, and for 2008 the series was revised down by 1.0 percentage point to 1.8 percent. Unit labor costs were revised down from 3.0 percent to −2.7 percent in the first quarter, as hourly compensation was revised down from 4.6 percent to −2.4 percent alongside the downward revision to output. In contrast, unit labor costs remained largely unchanged over the past few years.

  • 08.07.2009
  • Nonfarm Employment
  • Nonfarm payrolls posted their smallest decrease since last August, decreasing 247,000 in July and beating expectations of a 320,000 decline. Moreover, revisions to both May and June’s estimates were positive, adding 43,000. That said, since the start of the recession, payroll employment has fallen by 6.7 million, back to mid-2004 levels. Losses were still widespread across the major categories in July, though at a markedly slower rate (in most cases). For example, manufacturing employment decreased by 52,000 in July, compared to an average loss of 172 since the beginning of the year. Also, professional and business service payrolls slipped just 38,000 in July, much less than the average loss of −118,000 over the past six months. Retail trade was the one sector not to see an improvement, as payrolls declined by 44,000 in July, compared to −27,000 over the past three months and −41,000 over the past six months. The average workweek of production and nonsupervisory workers ticked up 0.1 hour to 33.1 hours, its first increase in 11 months. Additionally, the manufacturing workweek rose 0.3 hour to 39.8 hours, its largest increase since March of 2007.

    Also, the unemployment rate ticked down by 0.1 percentage point to 9.4 percent in July (its first decrease since April 2008). However, the headline measure may not be characterizing the underlying employment situation completely. While the number of unemployed persons did decrease (−267,000), many more people exited the workforce (−422,000). An alternative measure of labor market stress, the employment-to-population ratio, was relatively stable in July, ticking down just 0.1 percentage point to 59.4 percent.

  • 08.05.2009
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 0.4 percent (nonannualized) in June, following a 1.1 percent rise in May. Still, the series is down −24.1 percent over the past 12 months. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft increased 2.6 percent in June after increasing 4.3 percent in May, helping to pull their 12-month growth rate up from −26.0 percent in April (their current cyclical low) to −21.8 percent in June. Shipments actually increased in June (following ten consecutive monthly decreases), rising 1.4 percent. Manufacturers were able to trim inventories by 0.8 percent in June, compared to an average decrease of 1.0 percent since the beginning of the year. With increases in shipments and declines in inventories, the I/S ratio fell to 1.42 months in June, a noticeable decrease from 1.45 months in May.
  • 08.04.2009
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income fell 1.3 percent (nonannualized rate) in June, though that was mostly due to a rolling-off of payments to social security recipients from the ARRA. Excluding these payments, the BEA noted that personal income fell just 0.1 percent in June. Disposable personal income fell 1.3 percent in June, nearly reversing a 1.6 percent gain in May. Over the past year, disposable income is down 1.3 percent. Nominal personal consumption expenditures rose 0.4 percent in June, though after adjusting for price effects “real” personal consumption fell 0.1 percent and is down 1.8 percent over the past year. Personal saving as a percentage of disposable income slipped down to 4.6 percent in June, a month after posting its highest level (6.2 percent) since February 1995, but it is still well above the savings rate seen at the beginning of the recession (1.4 percent).
  • 08.04.2009
  • Personal Consumption Expenditures
  • The PCE price index jumped up 6.8 percent (annualized rate) in June, mostly on rising energy prices and outpacing its 3-month growth rate of 2.7 percent and its 12-month growth rate of -0.4 percent. Excluding food and energy prices (core PCE), the index rose 1.9 percent during the month, following a 1.1 percent increase in May. Over the past 12 months, the core PCE has risen just 1.5 percent, its slowest growth rate since December 2003. The definition of core PCE was updated during the BEA’s comprehensive revision to the National Income and Product Accounts to incorporate food services prices, which since 1995 have pushed up the core PCE by a little less than 0.1 percentage point per year, on average.
  • 08.03.2009
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending increased 0.3 percent (nonannualized) in June 1.0 percent on a 1.0 percent increase in public construction that was tempered by a 0.1 percent decrease in private construction. The 12-month growth rate in private construction improved from -18.0 percent in May to -16.3 percent in June. Private nonresidential construction fell 0.5 percent, while earlier reports of gains in nonresidential construction during April and May were revised away. On the other hand, private residential construction rose 0.5 percent during the month, rebounding from a 3.1 percent decrease in May. On a year-over-year basis, the growth rate in the hard-hit residential series improved from -32.7 percent to -30.0 percent.
  • 08.03.2009
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) took another step toward the growth threshold of 50.0, increasing by (a greater than expected) 4.1 points to an index value of 48.9 in July. The overall increase was driven by relatively strong increases in new orders (+ 6.1 points), production (+5.4 points), and employment (+4.9 points). The release noted that with July’s increases, both the production and new orders indexes are above the 50.0 threshold, “setting an expectation for future growth in the sector.”