Data Updates

Data Updates

September 2009

  • 09.30.2009
  • Real GDP
  • Real GDP was revised up from −1.0 percent to −0.7 percent in the second quarter, according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The upward revision was primarily due to an upward adjustment to nonresidential fixed investment—from a 10.9 percent decrease to a 9.6 percent decline—adding a little more than 0.1 percentage point to real GDP growth. Also, personal consumption expenditures were revised up from −1.0 percent to −0.9 percent. Other revisions to components were relatively negligible. Even with the slight upward revision in the second quarter, the year-over-year growth rate in real GDP stands at −3.8 percent (still a postwar low). Also, assuming that the second quarter is the trough (end of the recession), the peak-to-trough percentage decrease in real GDP is 3.7 percent.
  • 09.29.2009
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city indexes both advanced at a quicker pace in July, rising at respective rates of 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent over the month. July marks the indexes’ strongest gain since April 2005 and only the second increase since April 2006. The improved performance in recent months has gradually pulled the 12-month growth rates up from their January low of about −19.0 percent. The growth rates for both rose at least two percentage points, with the 10-city index now at −12.8 percent over the past year and the 20-city index at −13.3 percent. The FHFA purchase-only index increased 0.3 percent in July, bringing its 12-month growth rate to −4.1 percent, up a percentage point from June and a low of −8.8 percent in November 2008.
  • 09.25.2009
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods slipped down 2.4 percent (nonannualized) in August, giving back some of July’s 4.8 percent gain. Some of the overall weakness in orders was due to a 30 percent decrease in aircraft orders, as durable goods orders excluding transportation were unchanged in August. Still, core capital goods orders (nondefense, excluding aircraft)—a measure some use as a proxy for business fixed investment—decreased for the second consecutive month, falling 0.4 percent in August. Over the past year, the series is down 20.7 percent, though the three-month annualized growth rate is up 8.8 percent (on some strength seen in June). Shipments decreased 1.4 percent in August, but its 12-month growth rate improved to −17.8 percent from −20.2 percent during the month. Inventories contracted for the eighth consecutive month, falling 1.3 percent in August. Given similar decreases in both inventories and shipments, the inventories-to-shipments ratio remained at an elevated 1.8 months.
  • 09.25.2009
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s measure of consumer sentiment was revised up in September from a preliminary index value of 70.2 to 73.5, representing a fairly strong 7.8 point gain over the August reading and the highest level since September 2007 (before the start of the recession). Both components of the index, current economic conditions and consumer expectations, contributed to September’s gain. Both shorter- and longer-run average inflation expectations were revised down in late September. One-year average inflation expectations ticked down 0.2 percentage point to 2.8 percent, while the longer-term (five-to-10-year ahead) average expectations slipped down 0.1 percentage point to 3.2 percent (still 0.1 percentage point above August’s reading).
  • 09.25.2009
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes edged up 0.7 percent in August to an annualized sales pace of 429,000 units, though this comes as July’s gain was revised down from 9.6 percent to 6.5 percent. By region, August’s gain was entirely concentrated in the West, as sales were level in the South and actually dropped in the Northeast and Midwest. In the seven months since sales hit an all-time low of 329,000 units in January, sales have picked up 100,000 units, or 30.4 percent. Despite the solid gains in that time, sales remain 3.4 percent below the year-ago pace. The number of new homes on the market dropped a further 8,000 units, or 3.0 percent. As a result of the inventory decline and slight increase in sales, months’ supply of new single-family homes slid further to 7.3 months, down from a peak supply of 12.4 months back in January. The median sales price fell in August, yielding a 12-month growth rate of −11.7 percent.
  • 09.24.2009
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales dropped 2.8 percent in August, giving up some of the strong gain in July that had put sales at its highest level since August 2007. July sales jumped 6.5 percent, marking the largest of four consecutive gains. The current annual sales pace of 4.5 million units, however, still sits 2.5 percent above its year-ago level. The Midwest led August’s decline, with sales dropping 6.6 percent compared to 2.2-3.1 percent in the other three regions of the country. The number of existing single-family homes for sale fell by 9.1 percent, bringing the months of supply down from 8.5 to 8.2 months, considerably lower than the 10.6-month peak in November 2008. The median sales price of existing single-family homes, which is not seasonally adjusted, retreated 2.3 percent but remains 8.1 percent above January’s trough. The 12-month growth rate in median sales price continued its path of slow-but-steady improvement since April, climbing a percentage point to −12.1 percent.
  • 09.17.2009
  • Housing Starts
  • Single-family housing starts declined 3.0 percent in August, the first setback after five consecutive increases. Although the drop of 15,000 starts lowered the annual pace to 479,000 units, the 12-month growth rate inched up slightly to −21.7 percent, the best it has been since April 2007. Since the trough of the series in January, single-family starts have increased by 122,000 units, or 34.2 percent. Total housing starts advanced 1.5 percent, as the jump in multifamily units such as apartments more than compensated for the decline in single-family units. Permits for single-family homes were virtually flat in August, dropping a slight 0.2 percent after four months of moderate increases around 6.5 percent. The 12-month growth rate in permits continued to improve in August to −15.7 percent, up from January’s low of −51.9 percent. Permits have been solid enough in recent months to maintain a positive 6-month growth rate since June, which now sits at 21.3 percent.
  • 09.16.2009
  • Consumer Price Index
  • The CPI jumped up 5.5 percent (annualized rate) in August, almost entirely on a spike in gasoline prices (the BLS says roughly 80 percent of the increase in the overall index was due to the increase in gas prices). Still, the 12-month growth rate in the series is down -1.5 percent. The core CPI (excluding food and energy prices) rose 0.8 percent in August, pushing its 12-month trend down 0.1 percentage point to 1.4 percent. However, there were a couple rather curious price moves during the month. First, the price for new vehicles fell 14.7 percent in August, their largest monthly price decrease since the early 1970s. This is, in part, due to how the BLS calculated the effect of the CARS rebate on the price of new vehicles. Also, used car and truck prices jumped up 25 percent in August (their largest increase since the 2004). A seasonal adjustment usually tamps down August used car prices, and this month was not an exception, though without seasonal adjustment used cars prices jumped up an outsized 33 percent. Now it could be that the CARS rebate motivated consumers to head to the dealership and those that didn't qualify for the rebate ended up getting a “cherry of a deal” on a used car, but it could simply be a measurement error as well (perhaps because the sample may have been skewed). Elsewhere, OER (Owners’ equivalent rent), which comprises roughly 25 percent of the overall CPI market basket, rose 1.0 percent in August after a virtually flat reading in July. The measures of underlying inflation trends produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the median CPI and the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI, rebounded a little from July’s relatively low readings (both increased 0.2 percent). The median CPI rose 1.8 percent in August, while the 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI was up 1.3 percent. Over the last 12 months, they are up 1.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. The underlying price change distribution showed less softness in August, as roughly 30 percent of the index (by expenditure weight) exhibited outright price decreases, compared to nearly one-half of the index in July.
  • 09.16.2009
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production jumped up 9.8 percent (annualized rate) in August (above expectations), following a strong upward revision to July’s estimate—from 6.7 percent to 12.1 percent. The last two monthly increases come after eight consecutive decreases, putting the 12-month growth rate at -10.3 percent. However, the 3-month growth rate in IP is up a strong 5.6 percent. Auto production gains due to the Administration’s CARS program drove some of the overall increase in production and helped to push manufacturing production up 7.8 percent. Still, manufacturing output excluding motor vehicle and parts production rose 4.7 percent in August. Mining output rose 6.6 percent but is still down 10.5 percent over the past year. Utilities production jumped up nearly 26 percent during the month, but the release noted that that was, in large part, due to unseasonably mild July temperatures that gave way to a warmer-than-normal August. The one-month diffusion index, a measure of the breadth of the production gains (losses), increased strongly in August—from 39 percent to 59 percent—above 50 percent for the first time since June 2008. Capacity utilization rebounded in August, up 0.6 percentage point to 69.6 percent of capacity, but it is still down 11.2 percentage points from the beginning of the recession (December 2007).
  • 09.15.2009
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales jumped up 2.7 percent (nonannualized rate) in August, after a slight 0.2 percent decrease in July. The increase in August was due in large part to an 11.9 percent spike in auto sales, motivated by the Administration’s CARS program. Nevertheless, retail sales excluding those of motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 1.1 percent in August—their largest increase since February. Sales at gasoline stations—driven by price increases—rose 5.1 percent during the month. Gains among components, while modest, were relatively broad based. The two exceptions were sales at furniture stores and building materials and supplies dealers, which fell 1.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. One of the addenda measures meant to get at “core” retail sales—sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations—rose 0.7 percent in August, following a slight downward revision to July’s estimate, which now stands at −0.3 percent. Over the past 12 months, the “core” measure is down 1.7 percent, but it is trending at an annualized rate of 2.4 percent over the past three months, which may be a sign that consumption is starting to firm up.
  • 09.15.2009
  • Producer Prices
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods jumped up 23.1 percent in August, continuing to exhibit large energy-induced price swings. In July, the PPI fell 9.9 percent after jumping up 23.3 percent in June. The core PPI, which strips away food and energy prices in an effort to lessen the volatility of the series, rose 2.1 percent in August, following a 1.4 percent decrease in July. Compared with August 2009, the core PPI is up 2.3 percent. Further back on the assembly line, both core intermediate and core crude goods prices increased in August, rising 7.2 percent and 102 percent, respectively. However, both series are relatively volatile and are still posting solidly negative growth rates over the past 12 months.
  • 09.11.2009
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices rose 2.0 percent (nonannualized) in August, following a brief 0.7 percent dip in July that interrupted steady growth begun in March. August’s increase was led by petroleum prices, which rose 10.5 percent, and industrial supplies and materials, which rose 6.1 percent. Excluding petroleum, the index advanced just 0.4 percent. The 12-month growth rate in import prices took a positive step, rising off its record low of −19.2 percent in July to −15.0 percent. The series remains very depressed though, as shown by the fact that it stood at a positive 18.1 percent just a year ago. Export prices also increased in August, rising 0.7 percent after a 0.3 percent setback in July. The overall monthly gain was mostly due to climbing nonagricultural prices (0.8 percent), as they rose for the fifth straight month and agricultural goods inched up only 0.2 percent.
  • 09.11.2009
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumer Sentiment rose by a greater-than-expected 4.5 points in September to an index value of 70.2 (according to the preliminary estimate) nearly taking back losses in the previous two months. Both components of the index, current economic conditions and consumer expectations, contributed to September’s gain. Sentiment has not quite recovered to June’s recent high of 70.8 but has come a long way since its low of 55.3 this recession. One-year average inflation expectations ticked up slightly from 3.0 percent to 3.1 percent in September, and the longer-term (five-to-10-year ahead) average expectations rose from 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent.
  • 09.10.2009
  • International Trade
  • The nominal trade deficit widened by $4.5 billion in July following a $1.1 billion increase in June. At $32.0 billion, the deficit has crept up over the past two months from May’s recent low of $26.4 billion, but has still improved substantially since the recent high of $64.9 billion was reached in June 2008. The improvement in the overall trade balance has occurred as both export and import volumes have fallen precipitously since last summer. Over the past year, exports are down 22.4 percent, and imports are off by an even larger 30.4 percent. In the past couple of months, though, the drop-off has stabilized and potentially begun to reverse. Exports rose for the third straight month in July, at 2.2 percent, and this was far-outpaced by a 4.7 percent gain in imports. The large jump in imports had much to do with an increase in both price and volume of crude oil purchases, as the average price per barrel rose by $3.31 and the U.S. imported 15.85 million more barrels in July than June.
  • 09.04.2009
  • Employment Report
  • Nonfarm payrolls, though still solidly negative, continued to improve in August, decreasing 216,000 compared to an average loss of 482,000 over the past six months. However, revisions to June and July’s payroll estimates were to the downside, subtracting an additional 49,000 (though that came entirely from downward revisions to government payrolls). Private payrolls fell 198,000 in August its smallest decline in 12 months. Payroll losses moderated across most of the major categories in August. Goods-producing payrolls fell 136,000 in August, with losses evenly split between construction and manufacturing. Service sector employment fell by 80,000, following a 154,000 decline in July. Retail trade payrolls fell by just 10,000 in August, compared to an average loss of 41,000 over the past six months. Auto dealers, electronics and appliance stores, and department stores actually posted gains in August (a first for electronics stores in nearly a year and the first gain for auto dealers since October 2007).

    After somewhat of an artificial tick-down in July (from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent—on a decrease in the workforce) the unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage point to 9.7 percent in August. The number of unemployed persons jumped up 466,000 in August after a 267,000 decrease in July (highlighting the volatility of the series), while 73,000 people entered the workforce during the month. An alternative (and somewhat less noisy) measure of labor market duress, the employment-to-population ratio slipped down 0.2 percentage point in August to its lowest level since 1984—59.2 percent.

  • 09.02.2009
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector labor productivity was revised up slightly in the second quarter—from 6.4 percent (annualized rate) to 6.6 percent—its largest quarterly increase since 2003:Q3. On a year-over-year basis, productivity is up 1.9 percent, rising from 1.0 percent in the first quarter and 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Interestingly, productivity has yet to dip below zero during the recession as it did during past severe recessions (1973, 1981), which may have an affect on how quickly employment recovers coming out of the recession. Unfortunately, the productivity gain in the second quarter came as hours worked fell further than output. Output was revised up by 0.2 percentage point, from −1.7 percent to −1.5 percent during the quarter, while hours worked were unrevised at −7.6 percent. The combination of a relatively flat compensation growth (up just 0.3 percent in the second quarter) and strong productivity gains pushed unit labor costs down 5.9 percent in the second quarter, its deepest decline since 2000:Q2, pulling the four-quarter growth rate in the series down to &minus1.2 percent.
  • 09.02.2009
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.3 percent (nonannualized) in July, following a 0.9 percent rise in June. Still, the series is down −23.2 percent over the past 12 months. Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft ticked down 0.3 percent in July, following two monthly increases in excess of 3.5 percent. While the 12-month growth rate in the series is down 21.4 percent, its 3-month annualized growth rate has jumped up at an annualized rate of 35.9 percent. Shipments were flat in July, after a 1.8 percent increase in June, but on a year-over-year basis, reached an all-time low of −22.2 percent during the month. Manufacturers continued to trim inventories in July (eleventh consecutive month), contracting 0.7 percent. As inventories shrink and shipments start to stabilize, the I/S ratio has started to pull back from its cyclical high of 1.46 months in March, slipping down to 1.40 months in July.
  • 09.01.2009
  • Construction Spending
  • Total construction spending ticked down by 0.2 percent (nonannualized) in July, following a downwardly revised 0.1 percent increase in June. The overall loss in July was driven by a 0.7 percent decrease in public construction spending that was only partially offset by a 0.1 percent increase in private construction. The slight gain in private construction was due to a 2.3 percent jump in residential construction, its largest gain since September 2008. Over the past 12 months, residential construction is down 27.8 percent, though this is an improvement from a cyclical (and series) low of −35.0 percent in March. Nonresidential construction fell for the fourth consecutive month, slipping down 1.2 percent in July, as losses were fairly broad-based across major categories.
  • 09.01.2009
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) crossed over its growth threshold of 50.0 in August, rising from 48.9 in June to an index value of 52.9, its first foray into expansionary territory since January 2008. The overall increase was driven by relatively strong increases in new orders (+9.6 points), supplier deliveries (+5.1 points), and production (4 points). Consistent with other measures of employment, the ISM’s employment index has shown some modest improvements lately, but—at 46.4—is still indicative of a contraction in manufacturing employment.