Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization: January 2017

Today, the Federal Reserve released their monthly read of industrial production and capacity utilization showing worsening results in January with total industrial production falling 0.25% from December and remaining flat at 0.01% above the level seen in January 2016.

Capacity utilization went declined from December dropping 0.49% below the level seen in January 2016 to stand at 75.35%.

It's important to note that industrial production is still showing significant weakness which, if all past periods were to serve at least as a rough guide, now clearly indicates notable trouble for the macro-economy.

Retail Sales: January 2017

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest nominal read of retail sales showing increasing activity in January with sales rising 0.4% from December climbing 5.6% on a year-over-year basis on an aggregate of all items including food, fuel and healthcare services.

Nominal "discretionary" retail sales including home furnishings, home garden and building materials, consumer electronics and department store sales increased 0.74% from December and rose 0.92% above the level seen in January 2016 while, adjusting for inflation, “real” discretionary retail sales increased 0.19% on the month but fell 1.58% since January 2016.

NAHB/Wells Fargo Home Builder Sentiment: February 2017

Today, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released their latest Housing Market Index (HMI) showing that overall assessments of housing activity generally worsened in February with the composite HMI index falling to 65 while the "buyer traffic" index declined notably to a level of 46.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Employment Situation: Nonfarm Payrolls and Civilian Unemployment January 2017

Today's Employment Situation Report indicated that in January, net non-farm payrolls increased by 227,000 jobs overall with the private non-farm payrolls sub-component adding 237,000 jobs while the civilian unemployment increased to 4.8% over the same period.

Net private sector jobs increased 0.19% since last month climbing 1.80% above the level seen a year ago and climbing 6.30% above the peak level of employment seen in December 2007 prior to the Great Recession.

Employment Situation: Unemployment Duration January 2017

Today's employment situation report showed that conditions for the long term unemployed went flat in January.

Workers unemployed 27 weeks or more increased to 1.850 million or 24.4% of all unemployed workers while the median term of unemployment declined to 10.2 weeks and the average stay on unemployment declined to 25.1 weeks.

Employment Situation: Total Unemployment January 2017

Today's Employment Situation report showed that in January “total unemployment” including all marginally attached workers increased to 9.4% while the traditionally reported unemployment rate increased to 4.8%.

The traditional unemployment rate is calculated from the monthly household survey results using a fairly explicit definition of “unemployed” (essentially unemployed and currently looking for full time employment) leaving many workers to be considered effectively “on the margin” either employed in part time work when full time is preferred or simply unemployed and no longer looking for work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers “marginally attached” workers (including discouraged workers) and persons who have settled for part time employment to be “underutilized” labor.

The broadest view of unemployment would include both traditionally unemployed workers and all other underutilized workers.

To calculate the “total” rate of unemployment we would simply use this larger group rather than the smaller and more restrictive “unemployed” group used in the traditional unemployment rate calculation.