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BLS Releases August 2017 Employment Situation (Sept. 2017)


Employers added 156,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in August of 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.4 percent.

Job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and technical services, health care, and mining. The number of jobs in professional and business services increased by 22,000 over the month, while manufacturing gained 36,000 jobs and construction gained 28,000 jobs.

Job growth in July 2017 was revised to 189,000, down from the initially estimated 209,000.  Over the past three months, job growth has averaged 185,000 additions a month. 

Average hourly earnings rose by three cents to $26.39, following a nine-cent increase in July. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen 2.5 percent.  

The full BLS press release on the August 2017 employment situation can be accessed in the .pdf below:

The next employment situation report for April 2017 will be released on Friday, October 6, 2017. 


BLS Releases July 2017 Consumer Price Index (Aug 2017)


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its report on the July 2017 Consumer Price Index (CPI) today.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose slightly in July, with an increase of 0.1%. Unadjusted, the index for all items saw a 1.7% increase over the past 12 months.

The energy index decreased for the third month in a row in July, dropping 0.1%. Most noticeable is the drop in the index for piped utility gas, which dropped 2.3% on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

The food index rose 0.2% in July after experiencing no change in June. The beef and veal index continued to rise in July, but at a slower rate, seeing an increase of 1.2%.

The index of all items less food and energy saw an increase of 0.1% in July. In particular, the shelter index—a measure of rent, mortgage payments, and lodging—rose 0.1% in July, its smallest increase since March. Reflected in the shelter index was the sharp decline of 4.2% in the cost of lodging away from home.

In a separate BLS report, average weekly earnings for private-sector workers, adjusted for inflation, increased 0.2% in July from the prior month. A year earlier, inflation-adjusted weekly earnings were up 1.1%.

The next CPI release is scheduled for Thursday, September 14.

The full release including data, summaries, and more information can be accessed via the PDF below:


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:


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