Friday, April 01, 2011

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales 13.1 million SAAR in March

by CalculatedRisk on 4/01/2011 04:30:00 PM

On Employment earlier:
March Employment Report: 216,000 Jobs, 8.8% Unemployment Rate
Employment Summary and Part Time Workers, Unemployed over 26 Weeks
• Employment Graph Gallery

Vehicle Sales Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Based on an estimate from Autodata Corp, light vehicle sales were at a 13.1 million SAAR in March. That is up 12% from March 2010, and down 1.2% from the sales rate last month (Feb 2011).

This graph shows the historical light vehicle sales (seasonally adjusted annual rate) from the BEA (blue) and an estimate for March (red, light vehicle sales of 13.1 million SAAR from Autodata Corp).

Vehicle Sales The second graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967.

Note: dashed line is current estimated sales rate. The current sales rate is finally off the bottom of the '90/'91 recession - and there were fewer registered drivers and a smaller population back then.

This was slightly below the consensus estimate of 13.2 million SAAR, possibly because of rising oil prices. I don't think the Japanese supply disruptions have impacted sales much yet.

Misc: Autos, ISM Manufacturing, NY Fed's Dudley

by CalculatedRisk on 4/01/2011 12:34:00 PM

On Employment earlier:
March Employment Report: 216,000 Jobs, 8.8% Unemployment Rate
Employment Summary and Part Time Workers, Unemployed over 26 Weeks

Autos: I'll post graphs of the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) around 4 PM ET.
• From MarketWatch: GM’s auto sales rise 9.6% in March
• From MarketWatch: Ford U.S. auto sales in March up 19.2% to 212,777
• From MarketWatch: Chrysler March U.S. sales surge 31% to 121,730

ISM Manufacturing:
ISM PMI • From the Institute for Supply Management: January 2011 Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®

Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Here is a long term graph of the ISM manufacturing index.

This was a strong report and slightly above expectations.

• From NY Fed President William Dudley: The Road to Recovery: Puerto Rico and the Mainland

[I]t is important to emphasize that we at the Federal Reserve have been expecting the economy to strengthen. We provided additional monetary policy stimulus via the asset purchase program to help ensure that the recovery regained momentum. A stronger recovery with more rapid progress toward our dual mandate objectives is what we have been seeking. This is welcome and not a reason to reverse course.

Yet, we must not be overly optimistic about the growth outlook. The coast is not completely clear—the healing process in the aftermath of the crisis takes time and there are still several areas of vulnerability and weakness.
No change in course.

Employment Summary and Part Time Workers, Unemployed over 26 Weeks

by CalculatedRisk on 4/01/2011 10:04:00 AM

Note: ISM Manufacturing survey PMI was at PMI at 61.2% in March, down slightly from 61.4% in February. This is very strong. Here is the report - (I'll post a graph later).

Here are a few more graphs based on the employment report ...

Percent Job Losses During Recessions

Percent Job Losses During RecessionsClick on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms - this time aligned at the start of the recession.

In the previous post, the graph showed the job losses aligned at maximum job losses.

In terms of lost payroll jobs, the 2007 recession is by far the worst since WWII, and the "recovery" for payroll jobs is one of the slowest.

Part Time for Economic Reasons

Part Time WorkersFrom the BLS report:

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in March, at 8.4 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
The number of workers only able to find part time jobs (or have had their hours cut for economic reasons) increased slightly to 8.43 million in March from 8.34 million in February.

These workers are included in the alternate measure of labor underutilization (U-6) that declined to 15.7% in March from 15.9% in February. Still very high, but improving.

Unemployed over 26 Weeks

Unemployed Over 26 Weeks This graph shows the number of workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

According to the BLS, there are 6.122 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks and still want a job. This was up from 5.993 million in February. This remains very high, and is one of the defining features of this employment recession.


This was an OK report; a little better than most recent reports, but still a long ways to go.

If we average the last three months together that gives about 160,000 payroll jobs per month. That is more than enough to keep up with the growth in the labor force, but it will only push the unemployment rate down slowly. Private payrolls were a little better at an average of 188,000 per month, as state and local governments continued to lay off workers (something we expect all year).

The decline in the unemployment rate from 8.9% to 8.8%, was good news, especially since the participation rate was unchanged at 64.2%. Note: This is the percentage of the working age population in the labor force.

However the increases for the long term unemployed, and for the number of part time workers for economic reasons, was not welcome news - although U-6 declined to 15.7%. All of these levels are very high.

The average workweek declined slightly to 34.1 hours, and average hourly earnings was flat. Both very disappointing.

Overall this was another small step in the right direction.

• Earlier Employment post: March Employment Report: 216,000 Jobs, 8.8% Unemployment Rate

March Employment Report: 216,000 Jobs, 8.8% Unemployment Rate

by CalculatedRisk on 4/01/2011 08:30:00 AM

From the BLS:

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from +63,000 to +68,000, and the change for February was revised from +192,000 to +194,000.
The following graph shows the employment population ratio, the participation rate, and the unemployment rate.

Employment Pop Ratio, participation and unemployment rates Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

The unemployment rate decreased to 8.8% (red line).

The Labor Force Participation Rate was unchanged at 64.2% in March (blue line). This is the lowest level since the early '80s. This is the percentage of the working age population in the labor force. The participation rate is well below the 66% to 67% rate that was normal over the last 20 years, although some of the decline is due to the aging population.

The Employment-Population ratio was increased slightly to 58.5% in March (black line).

Percent Job Losses During Recessions The second graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms aligned at maximum job losses. The dotted line is ex-Census hiring.

The current employment recession is by far the worst recession since WWII in percentage terms, and 2nd worst in terms of the unemployment rate (only the early '80s recession with a peak of 10.8 percent was worse).

This was slightly above expectations for payroll jobs. Over the last three months, the economy has added about 160 thousand payroll jobs per month (188 thousand private payroll jobs per month). I'll have much more soon ...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Restaurant Performance Index increases in February

by CalculatedRisk on 3/31/2011 08:11:00 PM

Kansas City Manufacturing Survey at Record High, Chicago PMI Strong in March
Employment Situation Preview: More Jobs, but still Grim

This is one of several industry specific indexes I track each month.

Restaurant Performance Index Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

The index increased to 100.7 in February indicating expansion.

Unfortunately the data for this index only goes back to 2002.

From the National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Industry Outlook Improved in February as Restaurant Performance Index Stood Above 100 for the Fifth Time in Six Months

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.7 in February, up 0.4 percent from its January level. In addition, February represented the fifth time in the last six months that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“February’s RPI gain was driven by solid improvements in the same-store sales and customer traffic indicators,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales and customer traffic results in February, after January’s results were dampened by extreme weather conditions in many parts of the country.”

“In addition to improving sales and traffic indicators, restaurant operators’ outlook for capital spending hit a 40-month high, while their expectations for staffing growth rose to the highest level in nearly four years,” Riehle added.
Restaurant operators reported a solid improvement in same-store sales in February. ... Restaurant operators also reported a net increase in customer traffic levels in February.
Bolstered by an improving sales outlook, restaurant operators’ plans for capital spending rose to its highest level in 40 months. ... For the fifth consecutive month, restaurant operators reported a positive outlook for staffing gains in the months ahead.
Increased traffic and sales, and a positive outlook for capital spending and hiring ... a solid report. Also, February was a record high sales month for the restaurant industry.

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