The Monday Morning Quarterback: A quick analysis of important economic data released over the past week
Total claims for unemployment insurance increased and have not made much progress over the last few months. This is disappointing. Also, Arizona quarterly personal income declined 1.2% in the first quarter compared to the last quarter of 2012. This was due to unusual and temporary factors. The increase over a year earlier was slightly below the U. S. personal income growth rate. This is also disappointing.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance were down, but, only modest progress has been made in the indicator over the past month. Mortgage interest rates surged to the highest level in two years. Yet, consumer confidence was up strongly according to one source and remained high according to another. Personal income was up strongly in May and the savings rate increased modestly as personal
consumption expenditures were up at a less rapid rate than personal income. New home sales continued to increase as did the pending home sales index. Finally, home prices nationally continued to increase at double-digit rates in April according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.
Total claims for unemployment insurance increased to 64,244 for the week of June 22. This is an increase from 60,911 the previous week. Despite the increase, the number of claims is down 39.4% from year earlier levels. The number of claims has not dropped in the last month, however.
Just reported, Arizona personal income for the first quarter of 2013 showed a drop from the fourth quarter due to the effects of some special factors. Included in these were the expiration of the U.S. “payroll tax holiday” (a temporary two percentage point reduction in the personal contribution rate for social security) and the acceleration of the receipt of income, especially personal dividends and salary bonuses, into the fourth quarter in anticipation of the first quarter changes in individual income tax rates. The rate of growth in Arizona personal income on a year over year basis was actually lower than the rate of growth nationally because those special factors affected Arizona, on average, more than the nation as a whole.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance declined for the week ending June 22. Yet, the number of claims is only 9.2% below year earlier levels. This is only modest progress over the last two months.
According to economy.com, consumer confidence reached a recovery best in June. The index stands at 81.4, up from 74.3 in May. According to the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, confidence was at 84.1 in June. This is down from 84.5 in May, but, still at a high level. Personal income grew in May by 0.5% after a growth rate of 0.1% in April.
Personal income now stands 3.3% over year earlier levels. Disposable personal income now stands up 2.25 from a year ago after 0.5% growth in May. Personal consumption expenditures are up 2.9% from a year ago and 0.3% over the last month. These are all respectable figures. Because income was up more than spending, the savings rate was up as well to 3.2%.
U.S. mortgage rates reached their highest level in two years this week. This, according to some analysts, threatens to slow the housing industry’s steady recovery. The average rate on a 30 year fixed rate loan jumped to 4.46% last week, up from 3.935 the previous week. That’s the highest level since June 2011. The rate on the 15-year mortgage jumped to 3.5% from 3.04% the previous week. That’s the highest level since August 2011.
Sales of new single-family houses in May were at a seasonal rate of 476,000, up from 466,000 in April. This occurred before the recent increase in mortgage rates so next month’s data will be telling. The National Association of Realtors pending homes sales index was up strongly in May. And, finally, data through April shows that home prices as measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller index increased by 10.6% over the past year for the 10-city index and by 12.1% for the 20-city index. From March to April, prices of each index rose by 2.6% and 2.5% respectively. The data show that Phoenix has posted 12 consecutive months of double-digit gains.