Data Updates

Data Updates

September 2011

  • 09.30.2011
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income slipped down 0.1 percent (non-annualized) in August, reversing a downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in July, and is now up 4.5 percent over the past year. Disposable personal income—which equals personal income less current taxes—was roughly flat in August. rose 0.3 percent in July. After adjusting for price changes, “real” disposable income posted its first back-to-back monthly declines since mid-2009, falling 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent in July and August, respectively. The series’ 12-month growth rate has slowed reflecting the recent softness and is trending at just 0.3 percent as of August (its slowest growth rate since May 2010). Some support for aggregate income has been waning lately, as nominal government transfers for social programs have slipped down 0.8 percent over the past two months (largely reflecting decreases in medicaid and unemployment insurance transfers). Real personal consumption expenditures were flat in August after an auto purchase-fueled 0.4 percent jump-up in July. The level of consumption was revised down slightly over the last few months, and is growing at an annualized rate of just 1.0 percent over the past three months; below its 12-month growth rate of 1.8 percent. Durables spending ticked up just 0.1 percent in August, while nondurables purchases—which have fallen in 4 of the last 6 months—decreased 0.4 percent during the month. Services consumption rose 0.1 percent in August, following a 0.4 percent gain in July, and is up 1.5 percent over the past year. The personal savings rate (as a percent of disposable income) slipped down 0.2 percentage points in August to 4.5 percent.
  • 09.30.2011
  • PCE
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index rose 3.0 percent in August, following a 4.5 percent spike in July. Food prices jumped up 7.5 percent in August, and volatile energy prices rose 15.4 percent, contributing to the overall increase. Over the past 12 months, the PCE price index is up 2.9 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index rose 1.8 percent in August, a slight deceleration from a 2.4 percent increase in July. On a year-over-year basis the index is up 1.6 percent. August&rsqu;s slight deceleration the the core PCE price index contrasts the upward move in the core CPI, which rose 3.0 percent during the month after rising 2.7 percent in July. Part of the disagreement between the two measures can be tied to nonmarket-based imputed prices, as the market-based core PCE rose 2.4 percent in August, following a 2.2 percent gain in July (it is also not unusual to see some disagreement between the two measures in an environment of rising rents, which receive a much higher weight in the CPI). Still, the market-based core measure is up just 1.6 percent over the past year.
  • 09.30.2011
  • Consumer Sentiment
  • The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment edged up in September, rising an index level of 59.4 from 55.7 in August. Still, the level of sentiment has fallen nearly 15 points over the past four months. Most of the recent decrease has come from the expectations component which, while it increased 2.0 points to 49.4 in August, has fallen 20 points in four months, and is sitting just 0.2 points above its June 2008 level. The current conditions component improved from 68.7 in July to 74.9 in August. Shorter-term median inflation expectations (one-year ahead) continued to drift lower, decreasing 0.1 percentage points to 3.3 percent in August, and are now down 1.3 percentage points from April’s recent high. Longer-term inflation expectations (five-years ahead) remained flat at 2.9 percent.
  • 09.29.2011
  • Real GDP
  • Real GDP was revised up in the second quarter from an annualized growth rate of 1.0 percent to 1.3 percent, according to the third estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. On a year-over-year basis, real GDP growth is now up 1.6 percent. Personal consumption expenditures, while still relatively soft in the second quarter, were revised up from a 0.4 percent gain to 0.7 percent, adding 0.2 percentage points to real GDP growth. Most of the upward adjustment to consumption came from services, which were revised up from 1.4 percent to 1.9 percent during the quarter. Net exports were the other contributor to the overall upward revision, as real exports were adjusted up to 3.6 percent from 3.1 percent in the previous estimate. Real imports were knocked down from 1.9 percent to 1.4 percent. Together, these revisions to foreign activity added 0.2 percentage points to real GDP growth in the second quarter. Elsewhere, the investment picture was virtually unchanged during the revision, with residential investment increasing 4.2 percent and business fixed investment rising 10.3 percent in the second quarter.

    The only significant downward revision was to the change in private inventories, which edged down by a little over a billion dollars, subtracting slightly less than 0.1 percentage points from output growth. Given the upwardly revisions to consumption and exports, final sales of domestic product was boosted by 0.4 percentage points to 1.6 percent in the second quarter, compared to a flat reading in the first quarter. Over the past year, final sales are up 1.9 percent. Perhaps offsetting the upward revision to real GDP, real Gross Domestic Income (GDI)—an alternative measure of output growth calculated from the income side of the NIPA accounts—was revised down from 1.5 percent to 1.3 percent in the second quarter. Still, on a year-over-year basis, real GDI, at 2.0 percent, is running slightly higher than the growth rate in real GDP.

  • 09.28.2011
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods slipped down 0.1 percent (nonannualized) in August, following a 4.1 percent jump-up in July, and rebounding from an 1.3 percent decrease in June (that was revised up from a 2.1 percent drop). Even though the series has decreased in four of the last eight months, its 12-month growth rate improved, rising from 9.5 percent in July to 12.3 percent in August, and is well above its recent low of 6.7 percent in April. Excluding transportation, new orders fell 0.1 percent in August and are only up 7.8 percent over the past year. An important signal of future equipment and software investment—new orders of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—rose 1.1 percent in August, following an upwardly revised (but still negative) 0.2 percent decrease. The 6-month annualized growth rate in the series improved to 18.4 percent in August, well above its 12-month growth rate of 8.6 percent. Shipments of durables decreased 0.2 percent in August after a downwardly revised 2.1 percent increase in July, and are up 8.0 percent over the past year. Durables shipments excluding transportation equipment jumped up 1.3 percent during the month and are up 9.2 percent over the past year. Durables inventories continued to swell in August, increasing 0.9 percent.
  • 09.27.2011
  • Housing Price Indexes
  • Both the 10- and 20-city S&P Case-Shiller home price indexes were up 0.9 percent from June to July. This is the fourth consecutive month housing prices have generally improved. On a monthly basis, only two cities posted declines, Las Vegas down 0.2 percent and Phoenix down 0.1 percent. On an annual basis, both the 10- and 20-city composites are down from last year, 3.7 and 4.1 percent, respectively, and although still in negative territory, 14 of the 20 cities saw their annual rates of change improve. On an annual basis, Detroit and Washington D.C. were the only two cities to post positive rates of change up 1.2 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

    The FHFA purchase-only index gained 0.8 percent from July to June, but is still down 3.3 percent from July 2010. All census divisions showed increases except for the South Atlantic, which fell 0.4 percent in July and is down 5.4 percent from its level in July 2010. The largest monthly increase was in the West North Central division, where prices improved 3.6 percent and are now 0.2 percent above the July 2010 level, and is the only division with a year-over-year increase in prices. The composite index is still down 18.4 percent from its April 2007 peak.

  • 09.26.2011
  • New Home Sales
  • Sales of new single-family homes fell 2.3 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 295,000 units. August’s decline follows an upwardly revised 0.33 percent decline in July. On a year-over-year basis, sales of new single-family homes rose for the second consecutive month, improving 6.1 percent. In August, sales of new single-family homes rose in the Midwest and South, increasing 65.6 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively while declining 36.7 percent in the Northeast and 10.6 percent in the West. The median sales price of a new single-family home fell 8.6 percent to $209,100. The number of new single-family homes for sale fell slightly in August, declining 1.2 percent to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 162,000 units, representing 6.6 months of supply at the current sales rate.
  • 09.21.2011
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Existing single-family home sales rose 8.5 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.47 million units sold in August. This is up from the 4.12 million units sold in July, and 20.2 percent above the 3.72 million unit sales pace of August 2010. Regionally, the West was most active as sales rose 18.9 percent, while median homes prices declined 14.1 percent for the region. The median price of existing single-family homes fell in all regions to a U.S. average of $168,400 in August, down 5.4 from one year ago. Inventories also fell to a supply level of 8.3 months which is down 26.5 percent from last year.
  • 09.20.2011
  • Housing Starts
  • Housing starts continued to remain weak in August, falling 1.4 percent to 417,000 annualized units. August’s decline follows a downwardly revised 5.8 percent decline in July. On a year-over-year basis, single family housing starts are down 2.3 percent. Single-family housing starts improved the South, increasing 7.6 percent; however, housing starts fell in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, falling 14.6 percent, 22.7 percent, and 2.2 percent, respectively. While single-family housing starts remained weak in August, authorized permits improved, increasing 2.5 percent to 413,000 annualized units. On a year-over-year basis, authorized permits are up 2.0 percent over August 2010’s pace.
  • 09.15.2011
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased 0.2 percent (nonannualized) in August, following a 0.9 percent jump up in July. Over the past year, industrial production is up 3.4 percent. Manufacturing production climbed up 0.5 percent in August, following a 0.6 percent in July. Like July’s reading, manufacturing output was bolstered by a relatively large jump up in autos production—which has averaged a 3.1 percent gain over July and August (but still hasn’t returned to its level prior to the Japanese earthquake). After stripping out motor vehicles production, manufacturing output rose 0.4 percent in July and is trending at an annualized growth rate of 3.2 percent over the past three months, slightly below its year-over-year growth rate of 3.6 percent. Outside manufacturing, electric and gas utilities output more than reversed a 2.8 percent (weather-induced) jump, falling 3.0 percent in August. Mining output continued its string of steady increases, rising 1.2 percent in August, and is now up 5.6 percent over the past year. Capacity utilization was revised down a few tenths of a percent over the previous three months (May through July), but rose roughly 0.1 percentage points to 77.4 percent of capacity in August.

  • 09.15.2011
  • Current Account
  • In the second quarter of 2011, the current account deficit narrowed by $1.6 billion to end at −$118 billion, down from the first quarter’s revised −$119.6 billion (−$119.3 billion, previously). As a percentage of GDP, the current account deficit fell from 3.2 percent in the first quarter to 3.1 percent in the second quarter, roughly half of its 2005 peak of 6.5 percent. The trade deficit widened $5 billion to −$145 billion, with high oil prices causing imports to expand faster than exports. Although the surplus of services increased by $3 billion to end at $45.3 billion ($42.3 billion, previously), the expansion of the goods deficit to −$190.4 billion from −$182.2 billion drove the overall widening of the trade deficit. Offsetting the widening trade deficit, the surplus on income hit a record high of $61.1 billion ($52.7 billion, previously) and contributed to the narrowing of the overall current account deficit.

  • 09.15.2011
  • Consumer Price Index
  • The headline CPI rose at an annualized rate of 4.6 percent in August and is now up 3.8 percent over the past year. Food prices rose 6.1 percent and energy prices increased 15 percent during the month, but these components were not the only major contributors to the overall increase. Apparel prices proceeded on their northward trajectory in August, rising 14.2 percent, in line with their three-month annualized percent change of 16.2 percent. The 12-month percent change in apparel prices has risen from −0.6 percent in March to 4.2 percent in August.

    Owner’s equivalent rent (OER) and rent of primary residence have also picked up recently, rising 2.6 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, during the month. While on a year-over-year basis, OER is up just 1.4 percent, its three-month annualized percent change has jumped up from 0.9 percent in May to 2.5 percent currently (slightly above its 10-year growth rate of 2.3 percent). August also saw continued upward pressure on underlying inflation measures. The CPI excluding food and energy rose 3.0 percent in August, a similar increase to what we’ve seen in this measure over the past six months (up 2.7 percent).

    On a year-over-year basis, the core CPI is now up 2.0 percent. Our measures of underlying inflation—the median CPI and 16 percent trimmed-mean CPI—were even a notch higher in August, rising 3.6 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively. The median CPI is now up 2.0 percent over the past year, while the trimmed mean has risen 2.4 percent. Perhaps even more worrisome is that in August roughly 65 percent of the overall index (by expenditure weight) rose at rates exceeding 3.0 percent, compared to 43 percent in July and an average of 32 percent over the prior 12 months. The last time this much mass was above 3.0 percent was in July 2008 at the height of the oil price shock. Also, just 13 percent of the index was in the other tail of the distribution (a price change of less than 1 percent). Unlike in previous months, where there was a fair amount of disagreement between the trimmed-mean measures and the sticky price CPI, this month the sticky price CPI rose 2.9 percent.

  • 09.14.2011
  • Retail Sales
  • Retail sales were flat in August, underwhelming expectations for a slight 0.2 percent increase. Perhaps even more disappointing is that it follows a downwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in July (down from 0.5 percent). Another downward surprise was a 0.3 percent decline in auto sales during August, reversing a 0.3 percent gain in July. Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales rose just 0.1 percent in August, and is trending at an annualized rate of just 2.2 percent over the past three months, compared to a year-over-year growth rate of 7.3 percent. Sales were mixed across broad categories, with the largest increase coming from sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (up 2.4 percent). On the other hand miscellaneous store retailers saw a 2.2 percent decline in sales, nearly offsetting a 2.4 percent increase in July. Interestingly, sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores fell 0.7 percent during the month. Given that these data are not adjusted for price changes, it could signal a decline in apparel prices in tomorrow’s CPI report (especially given the recent decline in cotton prices). “Core” retail sales (sales excluding autos, building supplies, and gas stations) were unchanged in August, it’s worst monthly performance since December 2010. The 3-month annualized growth rate in core retail sales has fallen to 2.9 percent as of August, down from a recent high of 10.2 percent in March. Over the past year, the series is up 5.2 percent.
  • 09.14.2011
  • PPI
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods was unchanged in August, after rising at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent in July, following a 4.3 percent decline in June. The 12-month growth rate slipped from 7.2 percent to 6.5 percent as a result of August’s flat reading. Energy prices fell 11.2 percent in August, restraining overall producer prices. Still, the PPI excluding food and energy prices rose just 0.7 percent in August, following a somewhat elevated 5.5 percent increase in July. Over the past three months, the annualized growth rate in the core PPI is 3.4 percent, modestly above its 12-month growth rate of 2.5 percent. Further back on the production line, pricing pressure was mixed, as core intermediate goods rose slipped down 1.2 percent and core crude goods—which are up 24 percent over the past year—rose 21.2 percent in August.
  • 09.13.2011
  • Import and Export Prices
  • U.S. import prices fell by 0.4 percent in August, down from July’s 0.3 percent increase. August marks the second time in the past three months the price index for imports fell. On a year-over-year basis, import prices rose 13 percent compared to July’s 13.8 percent yearly gains. The main driver behind August’s decline was a 2.1 percent drop in petroleum prices. Even though petroleum prices declined in three of the past four months, they continue to rise on a yearly basis posting a 43.5 percent advance. Non-oil import prices increased for the second consecutive month, rising 0.3 percent in August. Drivers of August’s non-oil import price gains include increases in nonfuel industrial supplies and materials (up 0.9 percent), consumer goods (up 0.3 percent) and capital goods (up 0.1 percent). Offsetting the increases were decreases in imported food and beverages (down, 0.8 percent) and unchanged automotive vehicles prices. Compared to a year ago, non-oil import prices advanced 5.5 percent.

    U.S. export prices edged up 0.5 percent in August after falling 0.4 percent in July. Gains stemmed from agricultural export prices which increased 2.2 percent after falling 3.9 percent in July. Non-agricultural export prices rose as well by a modest 0.3 percent with increases in industrial supplies and materials (0.6 percent) as a main driver. Year-over-year, export prices posted gains of 9.6 percent.

  • 09.09.2011
  • Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
  • For the first time since March, the central bank liquidity swap lines were tapped. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) drew $200 million on their line the week of August 17, and then the European Central Bank (ECB) drew $500 million on its dollar liquidity swap line the following week. In opposition to the SNB operation, which appeared to be for a foreign exchange intervention, the ECB move looks to be in support of struggling European banks. There has been a noticeable jump in foreign official reverse repurchase agreements in addition to the use of the liquidity swap lines. The reverse repo operations allow foreign central banks to temporarily acquire some of the Fed’s security holdings. Data is not available on which central banks have been conducting the operations, but those balances have jumped from roughly $70 billion to $100 billion throughout August. Maiden Lane I made another sizable payment on its outstanding loan, while Maiden Lane II and Maiden Lane III made smaller dents in their outstanding balances.
  • 09.08.2011
  • Consumer Credit
  • Total consumer credit outstanding rose for the sixth consecutive month in July, improving 0.5 percent. On a year-over-year basis, consumer credit outstanding rose 2.3 percent. Gains in consumer credit were concentrated in nonrevolving accounts, which rose 0.9 percent in July and are up 5.2 percent on a year-over-year basis. Nonrevolving accounts typically consist of auto sales and other big-ticket items that require financing. Comparatively, consumer credit in the form of revolving accounts contracted 0.4 percent and is down 3.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.
  • 09.08.2011
  • U.S. Trade
  • The U.S. trade deficit narrowed 13.1 percent to $44.8 billion in June, decreasing $6.8 billion from June’s revised $51.6 (previously $53.1 billion). The decline from June to July was the largest since February 2009, showing a strong start to the third quarter. Exports jumped $6.2 billion to 178.0 billion, posting a new nominal record, while imports fell $0.5 billion to $222.8 billion. July’s 0.2 percent decline in imports stems from decreases in the price adjusted categories of food and beverages (down 4.1 percent) and industrial supplies (down 3.2 percent). Despite the overall import decline, real imports of automobiles jumped 15.5 percent from June to July. Year-over-year, imports rose 13.6 percent, up slightly from June’s 13 percent gain. Exports climbed 3.6 percent after falling last month and were up 15.1 percent on a year-over-year basis. Gains were driven by a 11.3 percent surge in real auto exports, as well as strong numbers from price adjusted categories of food and beverages (up 3.2 percent), industrial supplies (up 6.8 percent), and non-auto capital goods (5.4 percent). Exports of capital goods ($42.1 billion) and automotive vehicles, parts and engines ($12.1 billion) posted record levels as well.
  • 09.02.2011
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls were unchanged (with a margin of error of plus or minus 100,000) in August, following downwardly revised gains of 85,000 (from 117,000) in July and 20,000 (from 46,000) in June. However, those downward revisions were almost entirely due to a bleaker picture of government payrolls, as private nonfarm payrolls were only revised down by 3,000 over June and July. Still, over the past three months nonfarm payrolls are averaging a gain of just 35,000, roughly half of its average over the previous 12 months. Private payrolls are telling a similar story of stagnation, averaging just 83,000 over the past three months, compared to an average of 144,000 over the prior 12 months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did note a couple of special factors in August. First, 45,000 Verizon workers were on strike during the reference week (and thus off company payrolls in August), accounting for nearly all of the the decline in the information sector (which fell 48,000). Importantly, even after adding back the workers on strike, private payrolls would have only grown by 62,000, which is far from “robust” employment growth. Also, a return of roughly 22,000 government workers in Minnesota following a partial shutdown bolstered state government payrolls. However, despite this one-off increase, government payrolls slipped down by 17,000 in August, largely on a 20,000 decline in local government payrolls. So far this year, local government employment is down by 421,000.

    Across broad industries, performance was mixed. Goods-producing payrolls slipped by 3,000 after a 52,000 gain in July. Construction employment fell by 5,000 in August, while manufacturing payrolls edged down by 3,000 after a 36,000 gain in July. On the service side, payrolls rose 20,000, compared to an average increase of roughly 120,000 over the past 12 months. As usual, healthcare payrolls continued to swell, adding 29,700 in August, in-line with its average gain over the past 12 months of 26,000. On the other hand, retail trade employment slipped down 8,000 in August, following gains of 26,000 in July and 12,000 in June. Average weekly hours of all employees ticked down from 0.1 hour to 34.2 hours in August, its lowest level since January. However, the series has improved markedly from its cyclical low of 33.7 hours in June 2009. Also, average (nominal) hourly earnings for all employees fell by $0.03 in August, its sharpest monthly decline over the short history of this series (which goes back to March 2006). The unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent in August, despite a slight increase in the labor force participation rate—up 0.1 percentage points to 64 percent (its first monthly uptick since August 2010). The employment-to-population ratio edged up 0.1 percentage points to 58.2 percent, but is still hovering near current cyclical lows.

  • 09.01.2011
  • Productivity and Costs
  • Nonfarm business sector productivity—real output per hour of all persons—fell to a 0.7 percent decline in the second quarter after previously being estimated as a decrease of 0.3 percent. This is now a steeper decline than the 0.6 percent drop reported in the first quarter. Productivity is now up just 0.7 percent since last year, slower than the first quarter’s 1.2 percent gain. Real output was the culprit for the drop in productivity, as it was downwardly revised from 1.8 percent to 1.3 percent. Hours were unchanged at 2.0 percent. Hourly compensation received an extra 0.8 percentage point, jumping to 2.7 percent growth in the second quarter. However, after adjusting for price changes, real compensation remained negative at a 1.4 percent decline. The downward revisions to productivity and upward revisions to compensation boosted unit labor costs—compensation per hour divided by output per hour—from an initial estimate of 2.2 percent to a revised estimate of 3.3 percent. First quarter unit labor cost growth was also revised to 6.2 percent from 4.8 percent after revisions to first-quarter compensation. On a year-over-year basis, unit labor costs are now up 1.9 percent, its fastest pace since 2008.
  • 09.01.2011
  • Construction Spending
  • In July, spending on private construction ticked down 0.9 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $514.5 billion. Declines in both residential and non-residential spending contributed to the top side decline. Despite the monthly decline, large upward revisions to spending levels for May and June suggest an upward (rather than flat) trend in private construction spending. In fact, private construction spending is up 5.5 percent over the year with both residential and non-residential showing increases of 5.3 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively over their July 2010 levels. On the residential side, that gain is entirely attributable to spending on residential improvements (up 21.8 percent over the year) as spending on single-family and multi-family construction is down over a 12-month period. In terms of non-residential spending, several sectors are showing over the year gains, including commercial (especially automotive and warehouse), educational, and power.
  • 09.01.2011
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) continued to stagnate, edging to from 50.9 in July to 50.6 in August, hovering just 0.6 points above the ISM’s growth threshold of 50. Performance was mixed across the five components that comprise the PMI. On the positive side, the new orders index improved from 49.2 to 49.6 in August (though remained below the diffusion index’s threshold of 50), the inventories index rose from 49.3 to 52.3 during the month, and supplier deliveries edged up as well. On the other hand, the production index slipped down from 52.3 to 48.6 during the month, its first dip below 50 since May 2009. The index has now fallen 20.4 points since March 2011. The employment index ticked down from 53.5 in July to 51.8 in August, its lowest value since November 2009, and like the production index, has fallen precipitously since early this year and has declined 12.4 points since a recent cyclical high in February. The prices index (which is not seasonally adjusted and does not enter into the overall PMI) continued to ebb, falling 3.5 points to 55.5 in August and is now down 30 points since April.