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Vermont Business Roundtable/EPR Third Quarter Business Conditions Survey Released (August 2017)


The VBR/EPR Business Conditions Survey for the second quarter/third quarter of 2017 has been released.  About half of the responses to the question about the state’s overall business climate outlook were neutral (48%).  The remaining responses were split between positive (28%) and negative (25%).  About 71% shared negative outlooks specifically with ease of hiring for available positions, compared to 74% in the previous survey.  The information sector had the most optimistic outlook on the general business climate, while the health care sector had the least optimistic outlook.  Compared to the national Business Roundtable CEO Survey, Vermont companies are predicting lower capital spending plans, and a more neutral or stable employment outlook than their national counterparts. 


For this reporting period, the diffusion index shows a slide back to neutral from Q2 2017 to Q3 2017, indicating that Vermont CEOs continue to feel uncertain about the business climate in many areas of the State and sectors of the Vermont economy for the coming three months.  Based on the highest frequency of comments, respondents expressed concern about finding qualified employees, challenging workforce demographics, the affordability of Vermont, and uncertainty regarding healthcare.

The Business Conditions Survey is conducted in partnership between the Vermont Business Roundtable and Economic & Policy Resources.  The nine question survey of the approximately 100 members of the Vermont Business Roundtable captures a glimpse of how Vermont business leaders see the state economy.  The survey asks business leaders how  their businesses have fared in the recent past and how they view the future.  Sentiments regarding the current and expected business climate and the expected impact on hiring and investing decisions are also surveyed.   Included in the standard survey is a question asking roundtable members for opinions on a current debate in public policy.   Along with providing a snapshot of the Vermont business climate, the survey allows Vermonters to see how these markers change over time.

The press release is available as a PDF below.


BLS Releases July 2017 Employment Situation Report (Aug. 2017)


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its report on the July 2017 Employment Situation this morning. The report is compiled based on the findings of two surveys: the Household Survey, looking at the unemployment rate of major worker groups and the labor participation rate, and the Establishment Survey, reporting on nonfarm payroll employment by major sectors, duration of the average workweek, and average hourly earnings.

Data from the Household Survey shows that unemployment was little changed in July at 4.3%, down 0.1 percentage points from June. After declining in the beginning of the year, unemployment has changed little in the past few months. Among the major worker groups, unemployment was generally unchanged. The unemployment rate for both adult men and women was 4.0%, while teenagers saw an unemployment rate of 13.2%.

The Establishment Survey shows that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 209,000 in July, bringing the average monthly employment growth rate for 2017 to 184,000. In comparison, this rate was 187,000 in 2016. The average workweek length for private nonfarm payroll employment remained unchanged while average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents to $26.36, with average weekly earnings of $909.42, up from $884.42 a year ago.

The full release—with data tables and more information—is available below as a PDF:


BEA Releases Advance Estimate of Q2 2017 GDP and Annual Update (July 2017)


The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released its advance estimate of second quarter of 2017 GDP and its annual update of the national income and product accounts. This advance estimate is based on data that may be incomplete or revised in the future. The second estimate for the second quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on August 30.

Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the second quarter of 2017, up from a (revised) rate of 1.2% seen in the first quarter of 2017. This increase reflected higher personal consumption expenditures, government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports.  While exports are still increasing in the second quarter at a rate of 4.1%, they have slowed down from the first quarter, where they experienced an increase of 7.1%.

Every summer, BEA updates previous GDP estimates, using updated data and methodology. GDP estimates for the past three quarters (the third and fourth quarters of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017) have been reduced from previous figures, signaling that economic growth was not as rapid as previously calculated. Nevertheless, a shrinkage of GDP has not been seen since Q1 2014, and this was an isolated case, indicating that the economy is healthy.

The full report including tables, charts, and data is available below:


BLS Releases June 2017 Consumer Price Index Report (July 2017)


On Friday, July 14, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its June 2017 report on the Consumer Price Index.

When seasonally-adjusted, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in June. Over the past 12 months, the all-items index rose 1.6%.

The energy index fell by 1.6% in June, less than the 2.7% fall seen in May. The gasoline index over the past 12 months fell by 0.4%, with gas prices falling 1.7% in June, before seasonal adjustment.

The food index, which rose in the past five months, was unchanged in June. The index for food at home fell 0.1%, consistent with the trend over the past twelve months. Most noticeable is the increase in the beef index, which rose 2.9%. The index for food away from home rose 2.2% over the past year, and was unchanged in June.

The index of all items less food and energy rose 0.1% in June, consistent with the trend in April and May. Over the past twelve months, the index rose 1.7%, with noticeable increases in the shelter and medical care indexes, rising 3.3% and 2.7%, respectively.

The next release is scheduled for Friday, August 11.

The full release is available at the link below:


BLS Releases June 2017 Employment Situation Report (July 2017)


On Friday, July 7, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its June 2017 report on the employment situation, indicating that the economy is healthy. The report is compiled based on the findings of two surveys: the Household Survey and the Establishment Survey. The Household Survey looks at the unemployment rate of major worker groups and the labor participation rate while the Establishment Survey reports on nonfarm payroll employment by major sectors, duration of the average workweek, and average hourly earnings.

The unemployment rate was at 4.4%, only 0.1 percentage points up from May, and a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from January. The number of unemployed persons was at 7.0 million. The labor force participation rate—at 62.8% in June—changed little and has not shown a clear trend in the past year.

Nonfarm payroll employment saw an increase of 222,000, with employment growth in the past year averaging 180,000 per month.

The average workweek for all private nonfarm payroll employees was at 34.5 hours, up 0.1 hours from May. Average hourly earnings for the same demographic rose by 4¢ to $26.25, a continuation of the trend that saw wages rise by 63¢ in the past year. Despite the tightening labor market, there is no sign that wage growth will accelerate.

The next release, covering the July 2017 employment situation, is scheduled for Friday, August 4 2017.

The full release is available below:


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