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 declines in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) moved down to –0.26 in May from +0.57 in April. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from April, and three of the four categories made negative contributions to the index in May. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, declined to +0.04 in May from +0.21 in April."

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 during the seven recessions since the 1967 starting point for this data series.