RED April 2012
It took 15 quarters for the U.S. economy to return to its pre-recession level of real GDP, which was three times longer than the average for 10 previous recoveries since World War II, according to Bloomberg. The labor market has yet to recover, and uncertainty regarding future tax increases scheduled to begin next year has left businesses hesitant to hire. Although the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.2%, it has remained at or above 8% for the past 38 months. The decrease in the unemployment rate masks the real problem of the exceptionally low labor force participation rate. If and when the millions of discouraged workers who have left the labor force re-enter it, it could cause an increase in the unemployment rate, or at the very least, a prolonged period of high unemployment.
Recent Economic Developments GREEN SHOOTS: SIGNALS OF A SLOWING PACE OF CON
GDP declined at a 5.7% annualized rate in the 1st
quarter, the third consecutive quarterly decline in real
The unemployment rate rose to 8.9% in April, the
highest since September 1983
Payroll employment fell by 539,000 in April and 5.7
million over the past 16 months
Oil prices have risen to over $60 a barrel recently, up
from around $40 at the beginning of the year
Interest rates on longer-term U.S. Treasury securities
have risen significantly since the beginning of the year
Recent Economic Developments 2009 02 03
The unemployment rate rose significantly in December to 7.2%, up from 6.8% a month earlier and 4.9% a year earlier, and the highest since January of 1993. Payroll employment declined by 524,000 in December and has fallen by almost 2.6 million over the past 12 months. Output, measured by the inflation-adjusted (real) gross domestic product (GDP), fell at a 3.8% annualized rate in the 4th quarter, dragged down by a significant 19.7% annualized decline in exports—the first decline since 2003—and a significant 3.5% decline in consumer spending. Reflecting ongoing adjustments in housing markets, residential investment has fallen for 12 straight quarters, home prices and building activities continue to decline, and mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures continue to climb. In light of weakness in housing, economic activity, and labor markets, the Federal Reserve decided last month to keep its target overnight interest rate in a “target range” of 0% to ¼% and identified “credit easing” plans to continue expansion of the asset side of its balance sheet.
Recent Economic Developments - Freefall Ends, Significant Risks Remain
Output in the economy, measured by the inflation-adjusted (real) gross domestic product
(GDP) fell at a 1.0% annualized rate in the 2nd quarter, an improvement from -6.4% in the
1st quarter, -5.4% in the 4th quarter of 2008, and -2.7% the 3rd quarter of 2008. The four
consecutive quarterly declines in GDP is a post World War II record string of declines. The
unemployment rate rose to 9.5% in June and is up by 4.6 percentage points since the start
of the recession. Non-farm payroll employment fell by 467,000 jobs in June, above May’s
losses of 322,000 jobs but more moderate than the average decline of almost 700,000 in
the first three months of this year. The economy remains sluggish, but incoming data show
signs of repair; the paces of decline in output is diminishing; the housing market is showing
signs of stabilization; and home price declines have subsided (by some measures, prices
have shown some recent increases). Arresting the declines in home prices and resulting
declines in household wealth is important for an economic recovery. However, with more
and more households experiencing unemployment, home foreclosures continue to grow.
Recent Economic Developments: Solid Economic and Jobs Growth Despite the Dr
Senator Sam Brownback and Representative Jim Saxton of the Joint Economic Committee released an updated Recent Economic Developments today, titled “Solid Economic and Jobs Growth Despite the Drag From Housing.” The report is attached.
Highlights of today’s report are:
-Payroll employment rose in October by 166,000 new jobs. Over 8.3 million new jobs have been added in the past 50 consecutive months of job gains.
-The unemployment rate held at 4.7% in October.
-Real GDP growth was an annualized 3.9% in the 3rd quarter, on the heels of robust 3.8% growth in the 2nd quarter.
-The Fed cut its target overnight interest rate by a quarter of a percent at its October policymaking meeting, in light of continued adjustments in financial and housing markets.
Recent Economic Developments: Incoming Data Suggest Economic Resilience
The economy cooled in the 1st quarter, with annualized growth in the inflation-adjusted (real) gross domestic product (GDP) dipping to 0.6%, the weakest in more than four years. However, recent data on consumer and business investment spending, construction activity, and net exports all suggest improvements in final demand for goods and services. Measures of activity in the manufacturing and services sectors over the past two months also indicate a rebound of production relative to averages in the 1st quarter. Private forecasters expect growth to remain moderate in the near term as adjustments in the housing market continue, but also expect growth to accelerate to a more trend-like rate of close to 3.0% by year’s end. Real GDP has grown at a healthy average rate of 2.9% over the past 22 consecutive quarters of expansion. Employment has also continued to expand; over 8 million new payroll jobs have been created in the past 45 months of consecutive job gains.
Recent Economic Developments - Economic Growth Eased, But Remains Healthy
Job gains and economic growth continue at a healthy pace. 274,000 new payroll jobs were created last month and the unemployment rate stayed at 5.2%. Twenty-three consecutive months of job gains have added almost 3.5 million new jobs to payrolls. The gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a healthy 3.1% annualized rate in the 1st quarter, an easing from 3.8% growth in the 4th quarter of 2004. Inflation remains tame, but has crept up over the past year, partly because of escalating energy prices. In light of healthy growth and slight increases in inflation, the Federal Reserve increased overnight interest rates last week. Forecasters see continued low inflation and robust economic growth throughout this year.
Recent Economic Developments - Job Gains and Economic Growth Continue
Job gains and economic growth continue at a healthy pace. 262,000 new payroll jobs were created last month. Twenty-one consecutive months of job gains have added over three million new jobs to payrolls. Growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the 4th quarter of last year was revised up to an annualized 3.8% rate from a prior estimate of 3.1%. While economic growth has been robust, inflation remains tame, but has crept up over the past year. In light of strong growth and slight in-creases in inflation, the Federal Reserve increased overnight interest rates last month. Forecasters see continued low inflation and robust economic growth throughout this year.
Recent Economic Developments - The Economic Expansion Remains Steady
Robust growth in consumer and business investment spending continues to fuel growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) and payroll job gains continue at a healthy pace. Payroll employment has expanded for 16 consecutive months and payroll job gains in 2004 totaled over 2.2 million. Energy prices rose again recently, after a sharp retreat from recent peaks of late October. Higher energy prices have pushed up the dollar value of imports while stagnant growth abroad has hampered export growth. As a result, the U.S. trade deficit hit a record high in dollar terms in November. Despite increases in energy prices last year, inflation remains tame. Forecasters continue to see low inflation along with strong and steady growth at least through next year.
Recent Economic Developments - The Expansion Has Regained Traction
The economic expansion has regained traction following the soft patch of late spring. Payroll employment growth picked up in August and consumer spending appears to have rebounded in July and August. Business investment spending continues to grow and employment and output in manufacturing are on the rise. Levels of activity in housing markets and new construction remain strong. Exports rebounded in July while imports declined, leading to an improvement in the trade balance. Inflation, inflation expectations, energy prices and long-term interest rates have recently eased. Forecasters see strong growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) for the second half of the year.
Recent Economic Developments - A Surge in Job Growth
Employment growth surged in March as the economy continues its brisk expansion. Activity in
manufacturing and service industries remains strong, profits and cash flows continue to improve,
business confidence and spending have been on the rise, and job growth is accelerating. Households
continue to benefit from tax relief and low interest rates. Short-term interest rates were kept
at multi-decade lows by the Federal Reserve in light of very low inflation. Rapid increases this year
in energy and industrial commodity prices have not inflated prices of most producer or consumer
goods. Forecasters see rapid, sustained growth of GDP this year and continued job growth.
Recent Economic Developments - Strong Economic Momentum
The unemployment rate continues to fall, manufacturing growth is recovering, and stock prices
continue to rally. The decline in the value of the dollar and faster growth abroad should further
boost export growth and trim the trade deficit. The pace of housing activity has cooled, but remains
extremely robust. Forecasters see strong growth and accelerating job gains ahead.
Recent Economic Developments - Strong and Sustainable Growth
The recovery continues at a strong pace. Payrolls increased by over 100,000 jobs in January, as activity in manufacturing and services industries accelerated. Last year closed with the economy growing at a 4% annual rate and productivity growing at a 2.7% annual rate, well above long-run averages. Inflation remains benign, allowing the Federal Reserve to maintain short-term interest rates at historical lows, and recent tax relief continues to benefit consumers and businesses. Forecasters see continued robust growth, low inflation, and accelerating job gains throughout the year.
Recent Economic Developments - Economic Strength Continues
The economy soared last quarter, with gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at the fastest pace in almost 20 years. Labor productivity – output per hour – also showed a remarkable gain. Economic strength continues to build as consumer spending remains robust, the housing market remains active, and companies are beginning to hire, invest, and restock their inventories. Forecasters see continued job gains and strong growth ahead.
Recent Economic Developments - Payrolls Revive, Economic Growth Soars
Washington, DC — The economy is beginning to run on all cylinders, as economic growth translates into significant job creation. Payroll employment has now increased for three straight months. Economic growth soared in the third quarter and was very broad based. Strengthening demand and well-timed tax relief lifted both consumer and business spending, while the declining dollar helped exports. Productivity continues to grow rapidly, boosting profits and wages. Analysts expect continued job gains and strong, sustainable economic growth.
Recent Economic Developments - Recent Data Confirm Strengthening Economy
Washington, DC — Increased economic growth is translating into a stronger job market. Payrolls increased in September, new jobless claims have trended down since April, and most other measures of economic activity have strengthened. Consumer spending and disposable (after tax) income growth were robust, in part due to recent tax relief. Analysts expect that economic growth in the third quarter was very strong, probably close to 5%. Though growth in manufacturing and services has been weaker, recent trends in manufacturing and in orders remain generally positive.
Recent Economic Developments - The Economy Builds Momentum
The long-awaited economic rebound appears at hand. Economic indicators are accelerating, financial markets are signaling faster growth, and government policy – both fiscal and monetary – remains highly stimulative. The great test in coming months is whether accelerating growth will finally translate into robust job growth.
Recent Economic Developments - Poised for a Pickup in Growth
The economy is improving, and many recent indicators suggest that growth will accelerate beginning in the third quarter. Labor markets, however, have remained lackluster. But historically low interest rates, tax cuts for families and businesses, and improving business conditions should lead to a long-awaited economic rebound in the second half of the year.
Recent Economic Developments - Looking Ahead to Stronger Growth
Recent data point to a weak second quarter, with much of this weakness reflecting decisions made during the uncertainty surrounding the war in Iraq. With concerns about Iraq now diminished, many timely economic measures have begun to improve (e.g., financial markets, oil prices, and consumer sentiment). In light of these improvements and the recent jobs and growth tax package, forecasters see much faster growth in the second half of the year. While somewhat less certain about the timing of that upturn, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan echoed the outlook in recent testimony before the JEC, stating that “economic fundamentals—including the improved conditions in financial markets and continued growth in productivity—auger well for the future.”
Recent Economic Developments - Mixed Economic Signals Continue
The economy posted tepid growth in the first quarter. Consumer spending growth slowed, business investment
declined, and job losses continued. Rapid developments in Iraq and fickle winter weather have made it difficult to discern underlying economic trends. A key uncertainty is whether positive developments, like declining oil prices and increasing consumer confidence, will provide a sustained lift to the economy. Another uncertainty is future tax policy; many forecasters see a pickup in growth assuming enactment of significant tax relief.
Recent Economic Developments - Growing Doubt About the Economic Outlook
The war in Iraq has obviously created uncertainty in the U.S. economy, however there is more to the story. The past month’s economic data have revealed a variety of mixed signals, such as robust housing markets, yet at the same time payroll employment fell by 308,000 jobs in February. It is unusually difficult to judge the current balance of risks.