Data Updates

Data Updates

January 2013

  • 01.31.2013
  • Employment Cost Index
  • Employer costs of compensation for civilian workers rose 0.5 percent (nonannualized) in the fourth quarter, following a 0.4 percent increase in the third quarter. The wages and salary component increased 0.3 percent, slightly below the third quarter’s 0.4 percent advance. The benefits component rose 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Year-over-year, civilian compensation advanced 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter, right in line with its average since the recession ended of 1.9 percent. Civilian wages and salaries increased 1.7 percent over the past twelve months, while benefits rose 2.5 percent. Private compensation grew 1.9 percent on a year-over-year basis and has also averaged 1.9 percent since the recession ended. Private wages and salaries increased 1.8 percent from this same time last year, while benefits grew 2.3 percent. Inflationary impetus from the labor market continues to be minimal as compensation growth has averaged 1.9 percent for the past three years.
  • 01.31.2013
  • PCE Price Index
  • The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index fell at an annualized rate of 0.6 percent in December, following a decline of 2.5 percent in November. On a year-over-year basis, the headline index is up 1.3 percent. The price of energy goods and services declined for the third straight month, dropping 14.6 percent, while food prices increased 3.2 percent in December, and have averaged increases of 3.2 percent over the past three months. Excluding food and energy prices, the “core” PCE price index increased 0.2 percent in December, after increases of 1.7 and 0.6 percent in November and October, respectively, and is up 1.4 percent over the past year. During the second half of 2012, the “core” PCE price index averaged monthly increases of 0.7 percent, compared with average monthly increases 2.0 percent during the first six months of the year. The market-based “core” PCE price index, which also excludes most imputed prices, increased 0.1 percent in December.
  • 01.31.2013
  • Personal Income
  • Nominal personal income jumped 2.6 percent (nonannualized) in December, following increases of 1.0 percent in November (revised up from 0.6 percent) and 0.1 percent October. The large increase was primarily due to “"accelerated bonus payments and other irregular pay in private wages and salaries in anticipation of changes in individual income tax rates,” as stated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Also impacting income in December were lump sum social security benefit payments. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less current taxes—increased 2.7 percent in December. This follows increases of 0.1 and 1.0 percent in October and November, respectively, and on a year-over-year basis, DPI is up 7.0 percent. Additionally, the BEA mentioned that without those additional factors stated above, DPI would have increased just 0.4 percent in December. After controlling for price changes, “real” disposable personal income increased 2.8 percent during the month. This helped to pull the current near-term (three-month) trend in “real” DPI growth up from 0.4 percent to 1.3 percent, and over the past year “real” disposable personal income has increased 5.6 percent. “Real” personal consumption expenditures increased 0.2 percent during December, after an increase of 0.6 percent in November and a 0.2 percent decline in October. Consumption averaged monthly increases of 0.2 percent during the fourth quarter of last year, which is similar to the third quarter trend. Over the past year, consumption has increased 2.2 percent. Consumption of goods increased 0.6 percent in December following an increase of 1.0 percent in November, and services consumption increased 0.1 percent in December after increasing 0.4 percent in the prior month. The jump in income compared with the modest increase in consumption caused the personal savings rate to increase from 4.1 percent in November to 6.5 percent in December.
  • 01.30.2013
  • GDP
  • Real GDP decreased at an annualized rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to a 3.1 percent gain in the third quarter, and disappointed even the most pessimistic private forecaster (Bloomberg’s panel of forecasters ranged between an increase of 0.5 percent to 2.6 percent). Smoothing over the past two quarters, real GDP increased 1.5 percent, compared to 1.6 percent in the first half of the year. Real GDP growth for 2012 (Q4/Q4) as a whole increased 1.5 percent, compared to a 2.0 increase in 2011. Fourth quarter real GDP was primarily pulled down by two transitory factors that subtracted nearly 2.6 percentage points (pp) in Q4 real GDP growth, the largest of which was from a downward swing in private inventories that subtracted 1.3 pp from Q4 real GDP growth. This came on the heels of a positive 0.7 pp contribution to Q3 growth from inventories. The second temporary downswing came from federal government consumption and investment, which plummeted by roughly 15 percent in Q4 (its sharpest contraction since 1973:Q3), subtracting nearly 1.3 pp from output growth. This was driven largely by a sharp 25 percent decline in real national defense consumption expenditures, that overshadowed a 15.1 percent jump in Q3.

    The last bit of negative news was that real exports fell 5.7 percent in Q4, posting its first decrease since 2009:Q1, and subtracted 0.8 pp from real GDP growth. This series, which the Burea of Economic Analysis has scant data on as of the advance estimate, was up 3.2 percent over the previous four quarters.

    On the positive side, this release showed some firming in consumption and private investment. Real personal consumption expenditures rose 2.2 percent in Q4, compared to a 1.6 percent gain in Q3, and slightly above its four-quarter growth rate of 1.9 percent. Nonresidential investment jumped up 8.4 percent in Q4, after slipping down 1.8 percent in Q3. The upswing was due to a sharp jump up in equipment and software investment (up 12.5 percent). Also, residential investment continued its upward climb (albeit from a very low level), rising 15.3 percent in Q4. Residential investment is now up 14.4 percent over the past year, its strongest growth rate since mid-1992.

  • 01.29.2013
  • Home Price Indexes
  • In November the S&P Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city housing price indexes posted respective annual increases of 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent, and monthly declines of 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent. Annual figures where stronger in 19 cities in November when compared to October, and ten cities showed monthly gains in November compared to only seven in October. New York was the only city to post an annual decline in November, Cleveland was flat, and Phoenix led with an increase of 22.8 percent over the past 12-months, which is its seventh consecutive month of double-digit returns. While the winter months are typically a period of weakness in the housing market, strong annual returns suggest a growing momentum within the housing market, and national home prices are back to fall 2003 levels.

    From October to November the FHFA housing price index ticked up 0.6 percent to an index level of 192.2, representing a 5.6 percent increase since last November and the highest index level since May 2010. Regionally, all areas posted moderate annual gains and only two areas posted monthly declines: East North Central, down 1.0 percent and East South Central, down 0.4 percent. The Mountain division showed the strongest improvements to home prices both monthly and annually, up 2.1 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively. Overall, national home prices are back to mid-2004 index levels.

  • 01.28.2013
  • Durable Goods
  • New orders for durable goods jumped up 4.6 percent in December, following a modest 0.7 percent in November. Despite some signs of near-term momentum, growth in new orders for durables is roughly flat on a year-over-year basis (up just 0.2 percent). Some of the growth in durables orders has been tied to increases in transportation orders, which are notoriously noisy. Excluding this volatile category, orders rose 1.3 percent in December, but are actually down 2.8 percent on a year-over-year basis. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, which is used to evaluate the near-term outlook in equipment and software investment, increased just 0.2 percent in December, but that is on the heels of two consecutive 3.0 percent monthly gains that has pushed it’s near-term (three-month) annualized growth rate up to 28.1 percent (its highest growth rate since May 2011). Still, on a year-over-year basis, the series is down 4.3 percent. Shipments of durable goods rose 1.3 percent in December, after an upwardly revised 1.8 percent increase in December. Over the past year, shipments are up 4.8 percent. More importantly, over the last 3 months of 2012, shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, rose 2.8 percent, compared to 3.0 percent decrease over the previous 3 months. This should prove positive sign for fourth quarter equipment and software investment. On a year-over-year basis, shipments of non-defense cap goods ex aircraft are up 2.0 percent.
  • 01.25.2013
  • New Home Sales
  • The pace of new single-family home sales fell 7.3 percent from November to December, but have risen 8.8 percent since December 2011 to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 369,000 units. Regionally, the Northeast experienced the sharpest monthly decline of 29.4 percent, but also the largest annual increase of 20.0 percent. The monthly supply of new single-family homes rose to a 4.9 month supply at the current sales pace. Meanwhile the median sales price rose 1.3 percent for the month and 13.8 percent over the past 12-months. Overall, there were an estimated 367,000 new single-family homes sold throughout 2012, which is a 19.9 percent increase above the 2011 figure of 306,000 units.
  • 01.22.2013
  • Existing Home Sales
  • Sales of existing single-family homes fell 1.4 percent from November to December, but rose 11.5 percent since December 2011 to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 4.35 million units sold. On an annual basis, the median sales price of existing single-family homes rose 10.9 percent to $180,300, which is the highest level since June. Meanwhile the monthly supply and inventories of homes continue to plummet, as they fell 20.9 percent and 21.2 percent, respectively since last December.
  • 01.17.2013
  • Housing Starts
  • The groundbreaking of new single-family homes in December rose to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 616,000 units. This represents an 8.1 percent increase for the month and an 18.5 percent increase since December 2011, as well as the highest level of housing starts in over four years (June of 2008). Regionally, the South continues to show the strongest gains by volume while annual percent changes were the most robust in the West, up 43.3 percent, weakest in the Midwest, down 21.7 percent. The issuance of single-family home building permits rose 1.8 percent from November to December and 27.3 percent since last December to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 578,000 permits.
  • 01.16.2013
  • Industrial Production
  • Industrial production increased 0.3 percent (nonannualized) in December, following a 1.0 percent increase in November as production returned following Hurricane Sandy. The near-term trend (three-month annualized growth) inched up to 3.7 percent from 3.3 percent. On a year-over-year basis, overall production is up 2.3 percent but it has been slowing from earlier in the year. Manufacturing production rose 0.8 percent in December while the year-over-year growth rate continues to slow, but increasing 2.4 percent. Breaking down the manufacturing sector, durable and nondurable goods increased 1.0 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Within durable goods manufacturing, primary metals, and motor vehicles and parts posted increases greater than 2.0 percent in December. Overall capacity utilization edged up 0.1 percentage points to 78.8 percent of capacity, which is still 1.5 percentage points below is long run average.
  • 01.15.2013
  • Retail Sales
  • Total retail sales increased 0.5 percent in December, following a 0.4 percent increase in November. A significant chunk of that growth over the past two months has been driven by autos sales. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.3 percent in December and fell 0.1 percent in November. Still, over the past 12 months, the growth rate in overall sales (up 4.7 percent) is outpacing the ex-autos trend (4.1 percent). Elsewhere, sales growth was evident across nearly all broad categories. The two exceptions are sales at gasoline stations (down 1.6 percent and likely price-related), and a 0.6 percent decline in sales at electronics and appliance stores. However, the decline in electronics and appliance store sales comes on the heels of a sharp 2.3 percent gain in November and is probably more a signal of unusual holiday shopping patterns than anything else. A less volatile indicator of sales strength, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) jumped up 0.6 percent in December, following a similarly strong 0.5 percent increase in November. The recent strength in the near-term growth trajectory in core sales is evident in its three-month annualized growth rate, which has improved from 2.0 percent back in August to 4.3 percent as of December. This reversal of some mid-year weakness has help bring the near-term trajectory back in line with its 12-month growth rate of 4.5 percent, in and of itself, a sign of continued momentum.
  • 01.15.2013
  • Producer Price Index
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI), slipped down at an annualized rate of 2.4 percent in December, its third consecutive decline. In contrast to the previous two months, the overall decline was largely due to a decline in finished consumer foods, which fell 10.6 percent in December (though this was after a 17.3 percent gain in November). Energy prices still declined, falling 3.1 percent, though much less severely than in November (down 43 percent). Over the past 12 months, the PPI is up a mere 1.3 percent, well below its long-run (10-year) annualized growth rate of 3.4 percent. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the “core” PPI edged up 0.7 percent during the month and is roughly flat over the past three months, decelerating markedly from its year-over-year growth rate of 2.0 percent. At earlier stages of production, price pressure was relatively modest with core intermediate goods prices rising 2.5 percent and volatile core crude prices increasing 14.6 percent.
  • 01.11.2013
  • International Trade
  • In November, the U.S. trade deficit expanded by $6.7 billion to a level of $48.7 billion. The $6.7 billion widening in November’s trade deficit was largely unexpected since consensus forecasts had predicted a contraction of $0.9 billion. After contracting in October, both imports and exports increased in November. The large fluctuation in imports and exports from October to November was likely driven by adjustments of inventory from hurricane Sandy which had disrupted trade flows in October. Imports rose 3.8 percent to a level of $231.3 billion and posted the largest monthly increase since March 2012. Exports climbed 1.0 percent in December to a level of $182.6 billion. On a year-over-year basis, imports advanced 2.6 percent after posting declines of −0.7 percent the month prior. Exports posted yearly gains of 3.3 percent after averaging 4.6 percent yearly gains throughout 2012. Should the deficit continue to widen in December, trade will likely negatively impact fourth quarter GDP calculations.
  • 01.11.2013
  • Import and Export Prices
  • Import prices edged down −0.1 percent in December after falling −0.9 percent in November. December’s decline marks the second consecutive month of losses and deviates sharply from the 0.1 percent gains predicted by consensus forecasters. Nonpetroleum import prices ticked up 0.1 percent and were offset by falling petroleum prices which fell −0.8 percent. On a year-over-year basis, import prices extended last month’s decline falling −1.6 percent. Petroleum prices drove the drop of the overall index, plummeting 7 percent on a yearly basis to mark eight months of the consecutive declines. Nonpetroleum import prices stayed relatively flat in December edging up 0.1 percent after posting 0.1 percent gains in November and 0.1 percent declines in October. Like November’s import price report, December’s exhibits much of the weakness stemming from the sluggish global economy.

    Export prices ticked down −0.1 percent after falling −0.7 percent in November and posting gains throughout the third quarter. On a year-over-year basis, export prices increased 1.0 percent marking the third consecutive month of gains.

  • 01.08.2013
  • Consumer Credit
  • In November, total consumer credit increased at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 7.0 percent, bringing total consumer credit outstanding to $2,768.5 billion. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 1.1 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 9.6 percent, led by borrowing for students loans and autos. The current data release carries no significant revisions to October’s preliminary numbers.
  • 01.04.2013
  • The Employment Situation
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose by 155,000 in December, in line with its 2012 average gain of 153,000. Revisions to the previous two months’ estimates added 14,000 in sum, but that includes a shift in the composition away from government payrolls toward the private sector. Government payrolls were revised down by 24,000 over the previous two months, and slipped 13,000 further in December. On the other hand, private nonfarm payrolls were revised up by 38,000 over October and November (interestingly, a little more than half of that upward revision came from the construction sector). Private nonfarm payrolls rose 168,000 in December, slightly above its average monthly gain during 2012 of 159,000. In December, most broad industry groups outpaced their respective near-term trends, with payroll gains in healthcare (up 45,000), leisure and hospitality (up 31,000), and construction (up 30,000) leading the way. The gain in construction employment comes on the heels of some relatively volatile swings (down 10,000 in November and up 25,000 in October), which is usually a sign of measurement issues. Nonetheless, over the past three months, construction payrolls are averaging a 15,000 increase, compared to a measly 2,000 average for 2012 as a whole.

    There were a couple of other interesting employment swings in December. First, manufacturing payrolls rose 25,000 in December, its strongest monthly performance since March, and have steadily increased since hitting a low point (shedding 16,000) in September. December’s factory employment increase was broad-based. Durables employment rose a little over 11,000 (roughly 5,000 of that was autos-related), and nondurables rose roughly 14,000. The other interesting swing came from retail trade payrolls, which fell 11,300 in December, after an increase of roughly 110,000 over the previous two months. Much of this weakness stemmed from a 19,000 decrease in employment at clothing and accessories stores in December (after an increase of 30,000 in November). Given the time of year, this pattern is suggestive of some seasonal adjustment issues. Turning to the household side of the report, the unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent in December (November’s original unemployment rate estimate of 7.7 percent was revised up to 7.8 percent as the Bureau of Labor Statistics updated their 2012 seasonal factors for the household survey). The labor force participation rate was steady at 63.6 percent, and the employment-to-population ratio was virtually unchanged at 58.6 percent (about where it began the year).

  • 01.04.2013
  • Factory Orders
  • New orders for manufactured goods were little changed in November, increasing $0.2 billion or 0.04 percent (nonannualized), following an increase of 0.8 percent in November. Year over year growth rates for new orders continue to decrease from higher levels seen earlier in the recovery, increasing 1.3 percent from last November. Excluding transportation new orders increased 0.2 percent for the month while the durable goods orders series rose 0.8 percent and the nondurable goods orders fell −0.6 percent for the month. Nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft orders (considered a leading indicator of business investment spending) grew 2.6 percent for the month pulling its three-month annualized growth rate up from −21.1 percent in September to 22.6 percent for November. Shipments and unfilled orders of manufactured goods increased 0.4 percent and 0.1 percent for the month, respectively. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio now rests at 6.14, roughly where it has been since late 2009. Inventories were little changed, 0.0 percent, with the inventory/sales ratio, 1.27, remaining stable since late 2009.
  • 01.02.2013
  • Construction Spending
  • Private construction spending declined 0.2 percent in November to $589.8 billion, but is still 13.3 percent higher than November 2011. Residential construction spending increased 0.4 percent over the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $295.3 billion. New multi-family construction spending increased 0.5 percent in November and is up 45.9 percent year-over-year. New single family construction posted a monthly gain of 1.3 percent. Private nonresidential construction spending decreased 0.7 percent over the month to $294.5 billion and is up 8.2 percent year-over-year. The only positive sectors were transportation and communication, with monthly gains of 3.4 and 2.8 percent, respectively.
  • 01.02.2013
  • ISM Manufacturing
  • The ISM report showed that manufacturing expanded in December, as the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) ticked up 1.2 percentage points since November to 50.7 percent. A PMI above 42.6 percent, over a period of time, generally indicates expansion; therefore this represents the 43rd consecutive month of overall growth for the economy. New orders were unchanged at 50.3 percent and has seen four consecutive months of growth. Of the five industries which reported expansion of new orders during December, apparel led the increase. Production fell 1.1 percent to 52.6 percent, which was led by a strong decline in non-metallic mineral products. Employment jumped 4.3 percent to 52.7 percent in December, indicating further growth in employment as there has been just one month of contraction within the past 39 months. Prices rose 3.0 percent to 5.5 percent, which was led by spike in prices paid by textile mills.