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Friday, February 24, 2017

USA Economy - Recent indicators generally showed that labor market conditions continued to improve in late 2016. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased at a solid pace in December. The unemployment rate edged up to 4.7 percent but remained near its recent low .. - FED

Publication -  Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, January 31-February 1, 2017





Staff Review of the Economic Situation 

The information reviewed for the January 31–February 1 meeting indicated that real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at a moderate rate in the fourth quarter of last year and that labor market conditions continued to strengthen. Consumer price inflation rose further above the slow pace seen during the first half of last year, but it was still running below the Committee’s longerrun objective of 2 percent. 

Recent indicators generally showed that labor market conditions continued to improve in late 2016. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased at a solid pace in December. The unemployment rate edged up to 4.7 percent but remained near its recent low, while the labor force participation rate rose slightly. The share of workers employed part time for economic reasons decreased further. The rates of private-sector job openings and of hiring were unchanged in November, while the rate of quits edged up. The four-week moving average of initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits was still low in December and early January. 

Measures of labor compensation continued to rise at a moderate rate. The employment cost index for private industry workers rose 2¼ percent over the 12 months ending in December, and average hourly earnings for all employees increased almost 3 percent over the same 12-month period. The unemployment rates for African Americans, for Hispanics, and for whites were close to the levels seen just before the most recent recession, but the unemployment rates for African Americans and for Hispanics remained above the rate for whites. 

Total industrial production edged down in the fourth quarter as a whole. Mining output expanded markedly, but manufacturing production advanced only modestly. The output of utilities declined, as the weather was unseasonably warm, on average, during the fourth quarter. Automakers’ assembly schedules suggested that motor vehicle production would be a little lower early this year, but broader indicators of manufacturing production, such as the new orders indexes from national and regional manufacturing surveys, were consistent with modest gains in factory output in the near term. 

Real personal consumption expenditures (PCE) rose at a moderate pace in the fourth quarter. Consumer expenditures for durable goods, particularly motor vehicles, increased considerably. However, consumer spending for energy services declined markedly, reflecting unseasonably warm weather. Recent readings on some key factors that influence consumer spending— including further gains in employment, real disposable personal income, and households’ net worth—were consistent with moderate increases in real PCE in early 2017. In addition, consumer sentiment, as measured by the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, moved up to an elevated level in December and January. Real residential investment spending rose at a brisk pace in the fourth quarter after decreasing in the previous two quarters. Building permit issuance for new single-family homes—which tends to be a reliable indicator of the underlying trend in construction—advanced solidly. Sales of existing homes increased modestly in the fourth quarter, although new home sales declined.




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