The Chicago Fed's National Activity Index, which we reported on this morning, is based on 85 economic indicators drawn from four broad categories of data:

  • Production and Income
  • Employment, Unemployment, and Hours
  • Personal Consumption and Housing
  • Sales, Orders, and Inventories

The complete list is available here in PDF format.

In this morning's Chicago Fed update, we learned that "Led by slower growth in employment-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) moved down to +0.08 in March from +0.27 in February. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from February, and one category made a negative contribution to the index in March. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, decreased to +0.03 in March from +0.16 in February, but remained positive for the fourth consecutive month."

A chart overlay of the complete multi-decade span of all four categories, even if we use the three-month moving averages, is quite challenging for visual clarity:

CFNAI Components

So here is a close-up view since 2000:

CFNAI Components since 2000

But a snapshot of the 21st century contains only two recessions, so it's unclear how the individual components have behaved in during the seven recessions since the 1967 starting point for this data series.