Discouraged unemployeds looking for jobs again


April 4th, 2016
The Monday Morning Quarterback
A quick analysis of important economic data released over the last week
The latest employment data shows that the U.S. economy continues to advance despite fears of a global economic slowdown.  Not only was employment up another 215,000 in March, but, the increase in the unemployment rate to 5.0% was due to more Americans rejoining the labor force.  Discouraged workers now have enough confidence in the job market to start looking for work again.  While this does not allay fears held by the Fed and others, it shows that both business and consumers continue to be confident in the outlook.
U.S. Snapshot:
  • Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 215,000 in March and the unemployment rate was little changed at 5.0%.   Employment increased in retail trade, construction and health care.  Job losses occurred in manufacturing and mining.  The labor force participation rate rose in March (see chart below).
  • Personal income rose 0.2% in March and now stands 4.0% over a year ago.  Disposable personal income was also up 0.2% for the month and now stands 3.7% over a year ago. This is higher than the rate of inflation.
  • Consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board rebounded from 94.0 in February to 96.2 in March.  The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in at 91.0 in March.  This was down very slightly from the February reading of 91.7.  Both show that consumers remain confident.
  • According to the ISM manufacturing index, manufacturing expanded in March.  The index rose to 51.8 in March.  This was up from 49.5 in February.  Any reading above 50 suggests expansion in the manufacturing sector.
  • Construction spending in February now stands 10.3% above a year ago.  Compared to a month ago, private sector construction was above flat while public construction was down.  New single family construction was up 10.6% over the last year while new multifamily construction was up 24.1% over a year ago.
  • The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for the 20 city composite was flat last month and now stands 5.7% above a year ago.
Arizona Snapshot:
  • For the Greater Phoenix area in January, the S&P/Case-Shiller index was down 0.2% from December but was up 6.1% from a year ago.
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