Friday, February 12, 2016

Retail Sales: January 2016

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest nominal read of retail sales showing rising activity in January with sales climbing 0.2% from December and rising 3.4% 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 declined 0.22% from December but rose 2.2% above the level seen in January 2015 while, adjusting for inflation, “real” discretionary retail sales declined 0.22% on the month and rose a slight 0.84% since January 2015.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

SNAP Food Stamp Participation: November 2015

As a logical consequence of the prolonged weak economic conditions, participation in the federal food stamp program remains at historic levels.

The latest data released by the Department of Agriculture indicated that in November, 85,541 individual recipients were added to the food stamps program with the current total declining 1.75% on a year-over-year basis.

Individuals receiving food stamp benefits increased to 45.45 million which, as a ratio of the overall civilian non-institutional population now stands at a whopping 18.05% of the population.

Households receiving food stamps benefits increased to 22.41 million households with the current total falling 1.22% below the level seen a year earlier

Total nominal benefit cost declined 2.87% on a year-over-year basis to $5.73 billion for the month.

Weekly Unemployment Claims: Initial and Continued February 11 2016

Today’s jobless claims report showed decreases to both initial and continued unemployment claims as seasonally adjusted initial claims remained below the 300K level.

Seasonally adjusted “initial” unemployment claims declined by 16,000 to 269,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “insured” claims declined by 21,000 to 2.239 million resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 1.6%.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – February 10 2016

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) decreased 7 basis points to 3.80% since last week while the purchase application volume increased 0.2% and the refinance application volume increased 16% over the same period.

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).




Tuesday, February 09, 2016

JOLT Job Openings and Labor Turnover: December 2015


Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest monthly read of job availability and labor turnover (JOLT) showing that private non-farm job “openings” increased 5.56% since November rising 11.76% above the level seen in December 2014 while private non-farm job “hires” rose 2.00% from November and 2.33% above the level seen in December 2014.

Quit activity, generally a mark of a strong job market for workers, also jumped notably rising 6.8% since November rising 12.5% above the level seen in December 2014.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Labor Market Conditions Index: January 2016


Today, the Federal Reserve released their latest read on Labor Market Conditions showing that conditions worsened in January with the index falling to 0.4 from December's reading of 2.3.

The Labor Market Conditions Index (LMCI) is a recent innovation by the Fed, conveniently incorporating the latest dynamics of 19 different labor market indicators into one simple series which has become a favorite economic measure for many labor market watchers, including the current Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

The chart above displays the LMCI alongside the monthly change to the Labor Department's Total Nonfarm Payrolls series (a constituent of the LMCI).

Friday, February 05, 2016

Employment Situation: Nonfarm Payrolls and Civilian Unemployment January 2016

Today's Employment Situation Report indicated that in January, net non-farm payrolls increased by a by 151,000 jobs overall with the private non-farm payrolls sub-component adding 158,000 jobs while the civilian unemployment went declined to 4.9% over the same period.

Net private sector jobs increased 0.13% since last month climbing 2.18% above the level seen a year ago and climbing 4.55% above the peak level of employment seen in December 2007 prior to the Great Recession.

Employment Situation: Unemployment Duration January 2016

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

Workers unemployed 27 weeks or more increased to 2.089 million or 26.9% of all unemployed workers while the median term of unemployment increased to 10.9 weeks and the average stay on unemployment increased to 28.9 weeks.



Employment Situation: Total Unemployment January 2016

Today's Employment Situation report showed that in January “total unemployment” including all marginally attached workers went flat at again 9.9% while the traditionally reported unemployment rate declined slightly to 4.9%.

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.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Weekly Unemployment Claims: Initial and Continued February 04 2016

Today’s jobless claims report showed an increase to initial unemployment claims and a decrease to continued unemployment claims as seasonally adjusted initial claims remained just below the 300K level.

Seasonally adjusted “initial” unemployment claims increased by 8,000 to 285,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “insured” claims declined by 18,000 to 2.255 million resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 1.7%.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

ISM Non-Manufacturing Report on Business: January 2016


Today, the Institute for Supply Management released their latest Non-Manufacturing Report on Business indicating that service related business activity slowed notably in January with the overall non-manufacturing index falling to 53.5 from last months reading of 55.8.

At 53.9 the business activity index significantly worsened since last month falling 12.36% below the level seen a year earlier, the largest annual decline seen throughout the entirety of the current expansion.

It would appear from today's report that service providing activities may be following manufacturing into a period of notable, likely recessionary, weakness.

Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey – February 03 2016

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50 percent of all residential mortgage originations and tracks the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications.

The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new and existing home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) increased 13 basis points to 4.04% since last week while the purchase application volume increased 4% and the refinance application volume increased 11% over the same period.

The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30 year and 15 year fixed rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes (click for larger dynamic full-screen version).




ADP Manufacturing Meltdown

Looking a bit deeper at today's ADP Employment Report, one finds yet another clear signal that the current expansion has topped-out making recession as a distinct possibility in 2016.

The ADP Total Manufacturing Payrolls series has continued to trend negative dropping 0.14% on an annual basis, the second year-over-year decline since the waning days of the Great Recession in 2010.

Keep in mind that while manufacturing is clearly also showing strong secular weakness, this is a very sensitive series that should not be ignored.

Also, a revitalization of the nation's manufacturing sector was a important goal of the current administration's economic policy and a particularly key focus of 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

ADP National Employment Report: January 2016

Today, private staffing and business services firm ADP released the latest installment of their National Employment Report indicating that the situation for private employment in the U.S. improved in January as private employers added 205,000 jobs in the month bringing the total employment level 2.00% above the level seen in January 2015.

Look for Friday’s BLS Employment Situation Report to likely show, more or less, similar trends.

Monday, February 01, 2016

ISM Manufacturing Report on Business: January 2016


Today, the Institute for Supply Management released their latest Report on Business for the manufacturing sector indicating that manufacturing activity remained weak in January with many components continuing to indicate contraction.

At 48.2 the purchasing manager’s composite index (PMI) rose a slight 0.42% from December but slumped 9.91% below the level seen a year earlier giving a solid indication of contraction for manufacturing.