Today, Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the Q3 of 2018 outlook results of their joint initiative, the VBR/EPR Business Conditions Survey and Index. More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) shared negative outlooks specifically with ease of hiring for available positions; an increase from the previous survey (72%). Slightly less than half of responses expressed a neutral outlook about the state’s overall business climate (48%); a slight improvement from the previous survey (50%). However, expected demand and capital spending for the next three months deteriorated from the previous quarter (49% and 51% neutral, respectively).
Mr. Carr of EPR stated that “Despite last quarter’s increase in business confidence, responses once again appear to be trending back towards neutral. Business leaders remain understandably cautious regarding to the near-term outlook with all of the political volatility in Washington, and as they work through their own issues with a tightening supply of workers as the unemployment rate drifts even lower. In the absence of a long-term and steady supply of available workers with the skill sets they need, Vermont businesses appear to be indicating that they are finding it difficult to commit to larger, long-term expansions.”
Vermont’s outlook appears to remain on a “neutral” trend, with only slight fluctuation. Given the responses from this and the previous survey, they continue to demonstrate that economic conditions overall are stable but not immediately leading towards expansion in many areas of the State and sectors of Vermont economy.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in July of 2018 on a seasonally-adjusted basis. An increase in the index for shelter was the main contributor to the monthly increase.
Excluding the volatile costs of food and energy, the index for all items less food and energy rose by 0.2 percent in July. The indexes for used cars and trucks, airline fares, new vehicles, household furnishings and operations, and recreation all increased in July.
The all items index has risen 2.9 percent over the last 12 months ending in July, the same as for June 2018.
The full press release can be found via the link below.
Next release is Thursday, September 13, 2018, for the August 2018 Consumer Price Index.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the economy added 157,000 jobs in July. With upward revisions to the data from the prior two months, the average gain over the last three months was 224,000. The leading sector for job gains in July was professional and business services, which increased by 51,000 in July and have added 518,000 over the year. The other leading sector is manufacturing, which added 37,000 jobs—all but 5,000 of which were in durable goods manufacturing. Employment in manufacturing is up by 327,000 over the last year, an increase of 2.6 percent. Other sectors adding employment in July are health care and social assistance (+34,000); food services and drinking places (+26,000); construction (+19,000); and retail trade (+7,000). Employment showed little or no change over the month in other major sectors, including mining, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial services, and government.
The unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent as most of the rise in unemployment in June—which was due to increased labor force participation—was reversed. The labor force participation rate—at 62.9 percent in July, was unchanged over the month. The employment-population (EPOP) ratio rose to 60.5 percent, a new high for the recovery.
The number of unemployed persons declined by 284,000 to 6.3 million in July. Both measures were down over the year, by 0.4 percentage points and 676,000 respectively. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent) and Whites (3.4 percent) declined in July. The jobless rates for adult women (3.7 percent), teenagers (13.1 percent), Blacks (6.6 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (4.5 percent) showed little or no change over the month.
Among the unemployed, the number of reentrants to the labor force decreased by 287,000 in July to 1.8 million, following an increase in June. (Reentrants are persons who previously worked but were not in the labor force prior to beginning their job search.) Long-term unemployed—those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.4 million in July and accounted for 22.7 percent of the unemployed.
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (called involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in July, at 4.6 million; down by 669,000 over the year. These persons, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full time jobs.
In spite of the healthy pace of job growth and the low unemployment rate, there continues to be little evidence of accelerating wage growth. Over the last year, the average hourly wage has risen by 2.7 percent. There is a small uptick to 2.87 percent if wage growth over the last three months (May, June and July) are annualized compared with the prior three months (February, March and April).
The full BLS press release on the July 2018 employment situation can be accessed in the link below:
The next employment situation report for August is scheduled to be released on Friday, September 7, 2018.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its advanced estimate of Second Quarter 2018 Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”), showing an annualized growth rate of 4.1% during the April 2018 through June 2018 time period. The release also revised First Quarter 2018 GDP upwards from the previous estimate of 2.0%, to 2.2% annualized growth during the January 2018 through March 2018 period.
GDP growth during the second quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.
The full BEA press release on the advanced estimate of Second Quarter GDP can be accessed in the link below:
The next release - for the second estimate of Second Quarter GDP 2018 – will be published on August 29, 2018.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1 percent in June of 2018 on a seasonally-adjusted basis. An increase in the indexes for gasoline, food, and shelter were the main contributor to the monthly increase.
Excluding the volatile costs of food and energy, the index for all items less food and energy rose by 0.1 percent in June. The indexes for medical care, used cars and trucks, new vehicles, and recreation all increased in June.
The all items index has risen 2.9 percent over the last 12 months ending in June, the largest 12-month increase since February of 2012.
The full press release can be found via the link below.
Next release is Friday, August 10, 2018, for the July 2018 Consumer Price Index.