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issue3 Current Statistics (10–03–2003) Jobless Claims, GDP, Leading Indicators, Construction, New Housing Starts, New Residential Sales, Durable Goods, Current Account, Trade Balance, CPI, PPI, Productivity, Unit Labor Cost, Compensation, 10–Year U.S. Government Current Statistics (11–5–2004) The Employment Picture Unemployment Rate ({5.4% Aug}…{5.4% Sep})…{5.5% Oct} Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 337,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was about unchanged at 5.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported November 5, 2004. Over the prior 3 months, payroll employment rose by nearly 225,000 on average. In October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, construction employment rose sharply over the month, and several service–providing industries also added jobs. Industry Payroll Employment (Establishment Survey Data) Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 337,000 in October to 132.0 million, seasonally adjusted. This followed job gains of 139,000 in September and 198,000 in August (as revised). Over the month, there was a large job gain in construction as well as notable increases in several service–providing industries. Since August 2003, payroll employment has risen by 2.2 million. Unemployment (Household Survey Data) Both the number of unemployed persons, 8.1 million, and the unemployment rate, 5.5 percent, were essentially unchanged from September to October. The jobless rate has held fairly steady thus far this year and remains below its most recent high of 6.3 percent in June 2003.             Jobless Claims 4–wk rolling average: 354,000 Oct–09, 348,750 Oct–16, to 343,500 Oct–23, to 342,000 Oct–30) In the week ending Oct. 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 332,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 351,000. The 4–week moving average was 342,000, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 343,500. For 2001, the average weekly initial jobless claims were running around 405,000; thus far, in 2004, the average has been in the 345,000 range. News Releases –          GDP (3rd Quarter 2004 Real GDP: 3.7%) The numbers for the third quarter of 2004 showed continued growth (yet lower than the 7.4% from a year ago) in real GDP. The Commerce Dept. reported a 3.7% growth rate for the3rd Quarter 2004 (on an annualized basis). It marked the 12th consecutive quarter of economic expansion. Real gross domestic product –– the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States –– increased at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2004, according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA press release on October 29, 2004). In the second quarter, real GDP increased 3.3 percent. The major contributors to the increase in real GDP in the second quarter were: Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) 3.23% (Durable Goods 1.33% up tick from 3rd Quarter; Services 1.1%) Gross private domestic investment: 0.85% (–.48% change in private inventories) Net Exports (Exports – Imports): –0.62% Exports contributed 0.51% while Imports negatively impacted the total by –1.13% Government Spending (Government consumption expenditures and gross investment): 0.26% Federal increasing .31% and State and Local down –0.05% Leading Indicators According to figures released by the Conference Board on October 26, 2004, “The leading index fell again in September, the fourth consecutive decline, and the weakness in the last four months has become more widespread. However, these declines in the leading index have not been large enough nor have they persisted long enough to signal an end to the current economic expansion.” Next release – November 18 , 2004 Construction (put in place) The most recent data from the Census Bureau shows rising levels of construction put in place. The August figure of $1.015.3 billion at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, shows an increase of 10.1% above the August 2003 estimate of $922 billion. According to the Census Bureau, during the first eight months of this year, construction spending amounted to $646.8 billion, 9.4% above $591.2 billion for the same period in 2003. Next release (for September) – November 2004 New Housing Starts The most recent joint U.S. Census Bureau and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development data available show a drop off in new housing starts. The September figures are running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.898 million units, 6.0 percent lower than the 1.909 million–unit revised rate reported for August estimate and is 1.2% below the September 2003 rate of 1.922 million. Next release (for October) – November 2004          New Residential Sales According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales of new homes increased from August’s reported numbers of 1.165 million units, to 1.206 million units (on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis) in September, representing an increase of 3.5%. This rate is above the September 2003 figure of 1.127 million units by 7.0%. Next release (for October) – November 2004  Durable Goods The most recent report from the Commerce Department, Census Bureau shows that New Orders for manufactured goods decreased $0.3 billion or 0.1% in August to $370.5 billion. This followed a 1.7% increase in July. Shipments increased $4.0 billion, or 1.1% to $376.1 billion. This was the highest level since the current NAICS series was developed in 1992…and followed a 0.9% increase in July. Unfilled orders of manufactured goods in August, up twelve of the last thirteen months, increased $1.8 billion or 0.3% to $536.6 billion, unchanged from the previously published increase. Meanwhile, Inventories of manufactured durable goods in August, up nine consecutive months, increased $1.7 billion or 0.6% to $276.6 billion. Capital Goods Industries (July): Defense, new orders decreased $1.6 billion or 16.2% to $8.1 billion; shipments increased $0.2 billion or 3.1% to $8.3 billion; unfilled orders decreased $0.2 billion or 0.1% to $141.6 billion; inventories decreased by $0.1 billion or 0.6% to $19.6 billion. Nondefense new orders increased by $5.8 billion or 9.0% to $69.5 billion; shipments increased by $0.4 billion or 0.6% to $62.7 billion; unfilled orders increased by $6.7 billion or 3.0% to $234.4 billion; and inventories increased $1.2 billion or 1.1% to $108.3 billion. As ever, durable goods measure continues to be a volatile indicator but the trends have been positive (looking over the past several months).   Current Account Balance (Trade Balance) The Current Account Balance consists of the Trade Balance (Net Exports (Exports less Imports) of Goods and Services), the Income Balance (Income Receipts and Income Payments), and net Unilateral Current Transfers. The Department of Commerce publishes the Current Account Balance data on quarterly basis. The Current Account Balance 2003 – $541.8 billion The Trade Balance 2003 – $490.2 billion As reported by the Commerce Department, the trade deficit in August 2004 stood at $54.0 billion, increasing by $3.5 billion from the $50.5 billion (revised) reported for July 2004. August exports were at $95.0 billion up slightly from $94.9 billion revised figure for July. Imports were at $150.1 billion, up $3.6 billion from the revised $146.5 billion reported for July.              CPI 0.2% (September) / PPI 0.1% (September) (Seasonally adjusted) CPI – On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI–U (all urban consumers), which had increased 0.1% in August, rose 0.2 percent in September (reflecting a 2.5% annual increase from September 2003). Adding to the increase in costs for the month were education where costs rose 0.6 percent, reflecting increases in the indexes for college tuition and for elementary and high school tuition up 0.8 and 0.9 percent, respectively; and in medical care where costs rose 0.3 percent in September to a level 4.4 percent higher than a year ago. PPI – On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Producer Price Index for Finished Goods increased 0.1 percent in September 2004, following a (0.1) decline in August (reflecting a 3.3% annual increase from September 2003).          Productivity, Unit Labor Cost and Compensation (Seasonally Adjusted) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the first three quarters of 2004 Productivity gains amounted to 3.7% for the 1st Quarter, 2.5% for the 2nd and 4.3 for the 4th Quarter. Unit Labor Costs declined by 1.6% in the 1st Quarter and rose by 1.8% in the 2nd and dropped to 0.1% in the 3rd Quarter; and Compensation grew at 2.0% in the 1st Quarter, 4.3% in the 2nd and 4.4% in the 3rd Quarter. Productivity gains continue to dampen the effect of increasing compensation. 10–year U.S. Government Bond Rate The 10–year Maturity U.S. Government Security continues to remain trading at a relatively low rate. For the month of September 2004, the yield averaged 4.13 percent. Click here to return to Main Page (Opinions expressed on this web page are those of a faculty member or employee and do not necessarily reflect the position of University of Detroit Mercy)