Snapshot – 2012 Q1 GDP (Advance Estimate)

Welcome to the Cooley-Rupert Economic Snapshot, our view of the current economic environment. This is the latest version of our snapshot of the U.S. Economy based on the preliminary first quarter data on National Income and Product from the Bureau of Economic Analysis as well as the March Employment Situation released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As in previous snapshots we present the data in a way that we find particularly useful for assessing where we are in the business cycle and tracking the U.S. economic recovery. The paths of all the series presented are plotted relative to the their value at the peak of the respective business cycles. We use the business cycle dates identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

We present the data in four sections. The first summarizes the path of Gross Domestic Product and its components. We also include the most recent labor market data and the summary of activity in credit markets. The final section summarizes the features of industrial production and inflation.

As always we welcome any suggestions for additional data that you would like to see and suggestions for how to improve the presentation of the data. Click here to go to the latest snapshot in one pdf document. Or, read on–


Lackluster GDP Growth

This morning’s advance estimate for GDP for the first quarter of 2012 reveals annual growth of 2.2%. After a 3.0% annualized growth rate in the fourth quarter, expectations were in the 2.2 to 2.5% range. The biggest contributors to the increase were personal consumption expenditures (PCE), up 2.9% at an annual rate, contributing about 2.0 percentage points to the overall increase. Durable goods consumption increased 15.3%, the second consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, and contributed 1.13 percentage points to the overall increase. Residential structures investment also has seen double-digit increases in consecutive quarters, up 19.1% this quarter after increasing 11.6% in the previous quarter. Nonresidential structures, -12.0%, and government, -3.0%, were the only negatives to be found, see BEA’s Table 1 for details.

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Snapshot – The March Employment Report

Welcome to the Cooley-Rupert Economic Snapshot, our view of the current economic environment. This is the latest version of our snapshot of the U.S. Economy based on the new employment numbers released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The complete Snapshot based on the latest revisions to fourth quarter GDP from the Bureau of Economic Analysis can be found in our previous post.

As in all of our snapshots we present the data in a way that we find particularly useful for assessing where we are in the business cycle and tracking the U.S. economic recovery. The paths of all the series presented are plotted relative to their value at the peak of the respective business cycles. We use the business cycle dates identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

You can also find the most recent version of the entire snapshot in pdf form here. As always we welcome any suggestions for additional data that you would like to see and suggestions for how to improve the presentation of the data.

The Labor Market

The latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows non-farm payroll employment rose by a disappointing 120,000 jobs in March. Prior payrolls were revised down  for January (-9,000) and up for February (+13,000). Many economists had expected the labor market to add about 210,000 jobs, having witnessed three consecutive months of 200,000+ increases, averaging 246,000 per month. The total number of unemployed persons remained essentially constant at 12.7 million and the unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 8.2%. The labor force participation rate ticked down to  63.8%, as did the employment to population ratio, falling to 58.5% from 58.6% in February. For comparison, as we did last month, we plot employment as reported by ADP, an association of payroll processors. Many observers view this as a useful early indicator of the BLS numbers.
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