6/19: MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY

Another 1.5 million initial unemployment claims filed, but continuing claims dipped slightly

In the week ending June 13, initial unemployment claims were 1,508,000, a decrease of 58,000 from the previous week’s revised level.   The number of continuing claims during the week ending June 6 was 20,544,000, a decrease of 62,000 from the previous week’s revised level.  Over the last 13 weeks, a total of 46 million have filed for unemployment benefits, but under half continued to certify for benefits as of June 6.


May Leading Economic Index rebounds 2.8 points to 99.8 after two months of declines

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® (LEI) for the U.S. increased 2.8 percent in May to 99.8 (2016 = 100), following a 6.1 percent decline in April, and a 7.5 percent decline in March.  The relative improvement in unemployment insurance claims is responsible for about two-thirds of the gain in the index. The improvements in labor markets, housing permits, and stock prices also buoyed the LEI, but new orders in manufacturing, consumers’ outlook on the economy, and the Leading Credit Index™ still point to weak economic conditions.


May retail sales rebound 17.7 percent from April, but down 6.1 percent year-on-year

May food and retail sales were $485.5 billion, an increase of 17.7 percent from the previous month, but 6.1 percent below May 2019.  Nonstore (online) retailers were up 30.8 percent from May 2019, while building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 16.4 percent from last year.


May industrial production rebounded 1.4 percent, but down 15.3 percent year-on-year 

Total industrial production increased 1.4 percent in May, as many factories resumed at least partial operations following suspensions related to COVID-19. Even so, total industrial production in May was 15.4 percent below its pre-pandemic level in February and down 15.3 percent year-on-year. Manufacturing output—which fell sharply in March and April—rose 3.8 percent in May; most major industries posted increases, with the largest gain registered by motor vehicles and parts. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.8 percentage point to 64.8 percent in May, a rate that is 15.0 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2019) average and 1.9 percentage points below its trough during the Great Recession.


Gallup:  53 percent of American adults label personal finances as excellent or good

Slightly more Americans today than two months ago rate their personal financial situation positively. A May 28-June 4 Gallup poll finds 53 percent of U.S. adults describing their personal finances as either “excellent” or “good,” compared with 49 percent in early April, when most of the country was under stay-at-home orders, and the effects of these on the economy were more uncertain.  Americans are still not as positive about their finances as they were in 2019 (56 percent) but remain much more upbeat than during the 2007-2009 Great Recession and ensuing years of high unemployment.