Weekly Gasoline Prices Inch Down But Remain Elevated
Gas prices inched down from last week but remain elevated. As of September 25, the price of regular and premium gas fell by 4 and 2 cents from the previous week, respectively. The WTIC end-of-day spot price for crude oil closed at $89.68, down 1.0% from last week.
Richmond Fed Manufacturing Activity Improved in September
Fifth district manufacturing activity improved in August, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The composite manufacturing index increased from -7 in August to 5 in September, marking its 1st positive reading in 17 months. This month's reading is higher than the -6 forecast.
New Home Sales Tumble in August
The August release for new home sales from the Census Bureau came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 675,000 units, below the forecast of 700,000. New home sales were down 8.7% month-over-month from a revised rate of 739,000 in July but up 5.8% from one year ago. The median home price is now at $430,300, down $6,300 from July on a nominal basis.
Consumer Confidence Declined Again in September
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index® declined again in September, marking two consecutive months of decline. The index dropped to 103.0 from August's upwardly revised reading of 108.7. This month's reading was worse than expected, falling below the 105.5 forecast.
S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index: Continues to Trend Upward in July
Home prices continued to trend upwards in July as the benchmark 20-city index rose for a fifth consecutive month. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index revealed seasonally adjusted home prices for the 20-city index saw a 0.9% increase month-over-month (MoM) and a 0.1% increase year-over-year (YoY). After adjusting for inflation, the MoM was reduced to 0.4% and the YoY was reduced to -7.0%.
FHFA House Price Index Rises 0.8% in July
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index (HPI) continued its climb in July, coming in at 409.5. U.S. house prices increased by 0.8% from the previous month and by 4.6% from one year ago. After adjusting for inflation, the real index is up 0.8% month-over-month and up 3.4% year-over-year.
World Markets Watchlist: September 25, 2023
Six of the eight indexes on our world watch list posted gains through September 25, 2023. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 finished in the top spot with a YTD gain of 25.23%. The U.S.'s S&P 500 finished in second with a YTD gain of 13.42% while India's BSE SENSEX finished in third with a YTD gain of 7.72%.
Breaking Down the Components of the Chicago Fed National Activity Index
The Chicago Fed's National Activity Index is based on 85 economic indicators drawn from four broad categories of data. Two of the four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index decreased from July. All four categories made negative contributions in August.
Dallas Fed Manufacturing: Business Conditions Continue to Worsen in September
The Dallas Fed released its Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey (TMOS) for September. The latest general business activity index came in at -18.1, down 0.9 from last month. This is the first monthly decline in the general business activity index in the past 4 months and marks the 17th consecutive month it has been in contraction territory.
Chicago Fed: Slower Economic Growth in August
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) fell to -0.16 in August from +0.07 in July. Two of the four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index decreased from July. All four categories made negative contributions in August. The index's three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, inched up to -0.14 in August from -0.15 in July.
RecessionAlert Weekly Leading Economic Index
The weekly leading economic index (WLEI) is a composite for the U.S economy that draws from over 20 time-series and groups them into the following six broad categories which are then used to construct an equally weighted average. As of September 8th, the index was at 7.010, down .007 from the previous week.
Zillow Home Value Index: "Real" Values Increases for Third Straight Month
August's ZHVI came in at $349,770, up 0.47% from July and up 0.40% from August 2022. However after adjusting for inflation, the real figures are 0.09% month-over-month and -6.45% year-over-year. Nominal home values have increased for 5 straight months while "real" home values have only increased for 3 straight months.
Existing Home Sales Fall as Prices Rise
Existing home sales continued their downward trend in August as prices remained elevated. According to the data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing home sales fell by 0.7% from July to reach a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.04 million units. This figure came in lower than the expected 4.10 million. Existing home sales are down 15.3% compared to one year ago.
CB Leading Economic Index Declines, Deepening Recession Fears
The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) fell for the 17th consecutive month in August as economic uncertainty and recession fears continue to grow. The index dropped 0.4% from last month to 105.4, the index's lowest reading since June 2020.
Philly Fed Manufacturing Index: Activity Declines
The latest Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index dropped back into negative territory indicating a decline in activity. In September, the index fell to -13.5, coming in below the forecast of -0.7. The six-month outlook remained positive for a fourth consecutive month at 11.1.
Unemployment Claims Fall to Lowest Level Since January
In the week ending September 16, initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since January. Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims were at 201,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 221,000. The latest reading was below the forecast of 225,000.
A Long-Term Look: Residential Building Permits and Housing Starts
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development published their August findings for new residential housing starts and building permits. Over the long haul, the two series offer a compelling study of trends in residential real estate. Here is an overlay of the two series since the 1959 inception of the starts and permits data, which was tracked beginning a year later.
Housing Starts Plummet 11.3% in August
New residential housing starts plummeted to their slowest pace since 2020 according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In August, housing starts dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.283 million, falling short of the forecasted 1.440 million. This marks an 11.3% decrease from July and a 14.8% decline compared to one year ago.
Building Permits Jump 6.9% in August
New residential building permits jumped to their fastest pace in almost a year according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In August, building permits reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.543 million, surpassing the forecasted 1.440 million. This marks a 6.9% increase from July but reflects a 2.7% decrease compared to the same period last year.
Margin Debt Down 2.9% in August; First Decline Since April
FINRA has released new data for margin debt, now available through August. The latest debt level fell for the first time since April to $689.19 billion. Margin debt is down 2.9% month-over-month (MoM) and up 0.2% year-over-year (YoY). However, after adjusting for inflation, debt level is down 3.3% MoM and down 3.3% YoY.
NAHB Housing Market Index: Builder Confidence Weakened by High Mortgage Rates
High mortgage rates continue to weaken builder confidence. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index (HMI) fell 5 points from last month to 45, the index's second straight monthly decline.
The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production Increases for Second Straight Month
Industrial production increased for a second straight month in August, surpassing expectations yet again. On a monthly basis, industrial production rose 0.4%, outpacing the projected 0.1% growth. Additionally, compared to one year ago, industrial production showed an increase of 0.25%.
Michigan Consumer Sentiment Inches Down in September
The September preliminary report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 67.7, down 1.8 (-2.6%) from the August final. This morning's reading was below the forecast of 69.1. Since its beginning in 1978, consumer sentiment is 20.4% below its average reading (arithmetic mean) of 85.1 and 19.4% below its geometric mean of 84.0.
Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Activity Little Changed
This morning we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions rose 20.9 points from last month to 1.9. This morning's reading was better than the forecast of -10.0 and pushes the index back into expansion territory.
Median Household Purchasing Power for the 50 States and DC
Earlier this week we posted an update on the median household income for the 50 states and DC based on the Current Population Survey, a joint undertaking of the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes annual data from 1984 to 2022. Let's now look at the actual purchasing power of those median incomes. For this adjustment, we're using the "C2ER Cost of Living Index" produced by C2ER, the Council for Community and Economic Research.
Retail Sales Rise 0.6% in August, Exceeding Expectations
The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for August revealed a 0.6% increase in headline sales compared to July, marking the fifth consecutive month consumer spending has increased. The latest figure surpassed expectations of 0.2% monthly growth. Core sales (ex Autos) also exceeded expectations by registering 0.6% growth in August, defying the forecasted 0.2% increase.
Producer Price Index: Wholesale Inflation Rises to 1.6% in August
Wholesale inflation rose more than expected in August as producer prices increased for a second straight month. The producer price index for final demand was up 0.7% month-over-month, its largest monthly increase since June 2022 (s.a.). On an annual basis, headline PPI accelerated for a second straight month from 0.8% in July to 1.6% in August (n.s.a).
U.S. Household Incomes: A 50+ Year Perspective
This month, the Census Bureau released its annual report on household income data for 2022. Last year the median (middle) average household income fell by 2.3% to $74,580. Let's take a closer look at the quintile averages, which dates from 1967, along with the statistics for the top 5%.
Household Incomes 2022: The Value of Higher Education
What is the value of education for household income? The Census Bureau's annual survey data for 2022 published in earlier this month gives us some interesting insights into this question. The median income for all households with a householder age 25 and older was $75,980.
Inside the Consumer Price Index: August 2023
Let's do some analysis of the Consumer Price Index, the best-known measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides all expenditures into eight categories and assigns a relative size to each. The pie chart illustrates the components of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, the CPI-U.
Household Incomes: The Decline of the "Middle Class" 2022 Update
The median household is the statistical center of the Middle Class. Let's take a closer look at the Census Bureau's latest annual household income data, issued earlier this month, with a focus on middle class income. In this update, we'll focus on the growing gap between the median (middle) and mean (average) household incomes across the complete time frame of the Census Bureau's annual reporting, which began in 1967, to the release of the annual data for 2022.
Inflation Since 1872: A Long-Term Look at the CPI
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U) released for August puts the year-over-year inflation rate at 3.67%. The latest reading keeps inflation below the 3.75% average since the end of the Second World War for the third straight month. However, inflation remains above the 10-year moving average which is now at 2.67%.
Middle-Class Hourly Wages as of August 2023
I've updated this series to include the August release of the consumer price index as the deflator and the monthly employment update. The latest hypothetical real (inflation-adjusted) annual earnings are at $49,010, down 8.1% from over 50 years ago. Hourly earnings are below their all-time high after adjusting for inflation.
Inflationary Insights: Breaking Down the August CPI
Over the last year and a half, we have seen some of the highest inflation rates since the second of the two recessions in the early 1980s. Recently, we have started to slowly make our way back down and are currently at levels seen during the early 1990s recession. Here is a table showing the annualized change in Headline and Core CPI, not seasonally adjusted, for each of the past six months.
Consumer Price Index: Inflation Rises to 3.7% in August
Headline inflation rose for a second straight month in August while core inflation continued to cool. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the headline figure for the Consumer Price Index increased to 3.7% year-over-year from 3.2% in July. The latest reading is slightly higher than the expected 3.6% annual increase. The core CPI reading was consistent with expectations at 4.3%, a slow down from 4.7% in July.
Median Household Incomes by Age Bracket: 1967-2022
Our commentary on household income distribution focuses on average household incomes over the 50+ year history of this data series. The analysis offers some fascinating insights into U.S. household incomes, but misses the implications of age for income. In this update, we examine household income from a different perspective with a focus on age bracket.
Inflation Remains Biggest Problem for Small Businesses
The headline number for the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased to 91.3 in August, as small business owners continued to report inflation as their biggest problem. The latest reading was worse than the forecast of 91.6 and marked the 20th consecutive month the index has been below the series average of 98.
The Fed's Financial Accounts: What Are Uncle Sam's Largest Assets?
Pop Quiz! Without recourse to your text, your notes, or a Google search, what line item is the largest asset in Uncle Sam's financial accounts?
- A) U.S. Official Reserve Assets
- B) Total Mortgages
- C) Taxes Receivable
- D) Student Loans
America's Driving Habits as of July 2023
Travel on all roads and streets increased in July. The 12-month moving average was up 0.3% month-over-month and was up 1.3% year-over-year. If we factor in population growth, the 12-month MA of the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) was up 0.2% MoM and up 0.1% YoY.
Long-Term Trends in Employment by Age Group
The labor force participation rate (LFPR) is a simple computation: You take the civilian labor force (people aged 16 and over employed or seeking employment) and divide it by the civilian non-institutional population (those 16 and over not in the military and or committed to an institution). As of August, the labor force participation rate is at 62.8%, up from the previous month and higher than anticipated.
U.S. Workforce Analysis: August 2023 Update
I've updated our monthly workforce analysis to include the latest employment report for August. The unemployment rate rose to 3.8% and the number of new non-farm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at 187K.
A Deeper Look at Full-time and Part-time Employment
Let's take a close look at August's employment report numbers on Full and Part-Time Employment. The latest data shows that 83.2% of total employed workers are full-time (35+ hours) and 16.8% of total employed workers are part-time (<35 hours).