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BLS Releases August 2018 Consumer Price Index (Sept 2018)

09.13.2018

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in August 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 food and energy categories, prices increased by 0.1 percent in August.  The indexes for used cars and trucks and airline fares increased in August while apparel, medical care, communication, and personal care all declined.

After a build-up in inflation through much of the year, consumer price pressures moderated in August; a positive sign for workers who have seen larger paychecks mostly eaten up by price increases. From a year earlier, prices rose 2.7 percent, a slowdown from the near 3 percent gain in the prior two months of June and July..  Core inflation rose 2.2 percent from a year earlier; also slightly slower than July’s annual gain. 

The full press release can be found via the pdf below.

Next release is Thursday, October 11, 2018, for the September 2018 Consumer Price Index.

 

 


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BLS Releases August Employment Situation (Sept. 2018)

09.07.2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 201,000 in August.  Downward revisions of 50,000 to the prior two months’ data brought the three-month average gain to 185,000.  Job gains were concentrated in a small number of sectors: professional and business services, construction, health care, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and mining.  After increasing for 12 consecutive months, manufacturing employment fell by 3,000 in August.  Weakness in manufacturing also shows up in the index of hours, which declined in August; as well as a weakening manufacturing diffusion index, which indicates the percent of employers intending to add workers. 

 

The unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.2 million changed little.  Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.5 percent), adult women (3.6 percent), teenagers (12.8 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), Blacks (6.3 percent), Asians (3.0 percent) and Hispanics (4.7 percent) showed little or no change in August. 

 

Long-term unemployed—those jobless for 27 weeks or more—was little changed in August at 1.3 million and account for 21.5 percent of the unemployed.  Over the year, the long-term unemployed has declined by 403,000.  The number of persons employed part-time for economic reasons—referred also as involuntary part-time workers—stands at 4.4 million; relatively unchanged over the month, but down by 830,000 over the year. 

 

Both labor force participation rate—at 62.7 percent, and the employment-population (EPOP) ratio—at 60.3 percent, declined by 0.2 percentage points in August.  The 0.2 percentage point drop in EPOP showed up also for prime-age workers (age 25 to 54).  For men, the year-over-year increase in EPOP is 1.1 percentage points, while for women it is 0.8 percent.  For both men and women, EPOPs remain below pre-recession peaks and well below the peaks reached in 2000. 

 

The most encouraging news in the report is evidence of a modest acceleration in wage growth.  The average hourly wage increased by 2.9 percent over the last year.  That compares to a 2.7 percent year-over-year rise in July.  Though too early to assume a clear trend, the average of the last three months compared with the prior three months is slightly more rapid at 3.1 percent.  Pay gains are not especially strong in areas where employers have been complaining of labor shortages.  The average hourly wage in construction was up 3.3 percent over the past year, but the gain was 3.5 percent back in September 2016.  Wages in manufacturing have risen by just 1.8 percent over the last year. 

 

The overall picture in the August jobs report is overwhelmingly positive.  The economy continues to generate jobs at a very healthy pace and there is some modest evidence that wage growth may be accelerating so that wages at least slightly outpace the rate of inflation. 

The full press release on the August 2018 employment situation can be accessed in the pdf. below.   

 

The next employment situation report for September 2018 is scheduled to be released on Friday, October 5, 2018. 


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BEA Releases Second Estimate of Second Quarter GDP (Aug. 2018)

08.29.2018

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its second estimate of second quarter 2018 Gross Domestic Product.  The advance estimate is based on data that is subject to further revision compared to the third estimate. The second estimate shows that real GDP increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent during the second quarter of 2018, showing 0.1 percent more growth than in the advanced estimate issued last month. 

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter reflected upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment and private inventory investment that were partly offset by a downward revision to personal consumption expenditures (PCE).  Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were revised down. 

The full BEA press release on the second estimate of second quarter GDP can be accessed in the link below:

The next release - for the third estimate of second quarter GDP 2018 - will be released on September 27, 2018. 


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Vermont Business Roundtable/EPR Third Quarter Business Conditions Survey Released (August 2018)

08.28.2018

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.”

 


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BLS Releases July 2018 Consumer Price Index (July 2018)

08.10.2018

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.

 


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