Employers continue to have many job opportunities. Here are the five things we learned from U.S. economic data released during the week ending August 13.
Many jobs remained unfilled even as hiring grew in June. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a record 10.073 million jobs open (seasonally adjusted) on the final day of the month, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The prior record was May’s estimate of 9.483 million. Private-sector employers had 9.154 million openings at the end of June, up 553,000 from May and 68.4 percent from a year earlier. Hiring also picked up in June, rising by 697,000 to 6.719 million. Even with the gain, hiring was off by 12.7 percent from a year earlier. Separations edged up by 254,000 to 5.584 million (+7.8 percent). Volunteer quits increased by 239,000 to 3.869 million (the gain reflecting ever-growing confidence among workers), while layoffs/discharges dropped by 43,000 to 1.310 million.
Consumer prices slowed their growth in July. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent during the month, its smallest gain since January. Energy prices surged 1.6 percent (gasoline: +2.4 percent) while food CPI rose 0.7 percent. Net of energy and food, core CPI had its smallest gain since March with a 0.3 percent gain. New vehicle prices jumped 1.7 percent. Also rising were prices for shelter (+0.4 percent), medical care services (+0.3 percent), used cars/trucks (+0.2 percent), and medical care commodities (+0.2 percent). Transportation services prices fell for the first time since February (-1.1 percent), while apparel prices held steady. CPI has risen 5.4 percent over the past year, while core CPI has a 12-month comparable of +4.3 percent.
…While wholesale price inflation accelerated. Final demand Producer Price Index (PPI) swelled by a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent in July, matching its prior month increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has core wholesale prices (net of energy, food, and trade services) jumping 0.9 percent, its biggest single-month increase since January. Wholesale energy prices rose 2.6 percent, while food PPI dropped 2.1 percent. Outside of energy and food, core goods prices jumped 1.0 percent. PPI for services advanced 1.1 percent, pushed up by increases for transportation/warehouse and trade services of 2.7 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. Final demand PPI has risen 7.8 percent over the past year, with the core measure up 6.1 percent.
Consumer confidence wilted mid-summer. The preliminary August 2021 Index of Consumer Sentiment reading of 70.2 (1966Q1=100) was down a sharp 11.0 points from the prior month. After the decline, the University of Michigan measure was 3.9 points below its year-ago mark and under the previous pandemic low of April 2020. The current conditions index fell by 6.6 points to 77.9 (August 2020: 82.9), while the expectations measure plummeted by 13.8 points to 65.2. The press release noted that the decline crossed over nearly every demographic group and resulted from the sharp increase in COVID-19 infections across the nation.
…As did sentiment among small business owners. The Small Business Optimism Index lost 2.8 points in July to seasonally adjusted 99.7 (1985=100). The six of 10 components that make up the National Federation of Independent Business measure deteriorated during the month, including significant drops for expected sales, expected business conditions, earnings trends, and plans to increase inventories. The press release noted survey respondents were “[l]osing confidence in the strength of the economy and expect a slowdown in job creation.”
Other U.S. economic data released over the past week:
- Jobless Claims (Week ending August 7, 2021, First-Time Claims, seasonally adjusted): 375,000, -12,000 vs. the previous week, -483,000 vs. the same week a year earlier). 4-week moving average: 396,250 (-65.4% vs. the same week a year earlier).
- Import Prices (July 2021, All Imports, not seasonally adjusted): +0.3% vs. June 2021, +10.2% vs. July 2020. Nonfuel Imports: Unchanged vs. June 2021, +6.3% vs. July 2020.
- Export Prices (July 2021, All Exports, not seasonally adjusted): +1.3% vs. June 2021, +17.2% vs. July 2020. Nonagricultural Exports: +1.6% vs. June 2021, +15.8% vs. July 2020.
- Productivity (2021Q1, Nonfarm Productivity, seasonally adjusted annualized rate): +2.3% vs. 2021Q1, +1.9% vs. 2020Q2.
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