Research Brief: Employment – January 2022

In rare feat, unemployment drops below 4 percent. Employers added 199,000 personnel to payrolls in December, below the 2021 monthly average of 537,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate fell 30 basis points to 3.9 percent. Of the past 22 years, fewer than three have been spent with sub-4 percent unemployment. The tight labor market is also reflected in the surplus of job openings, last counted at 10.6 million, compared to 6.3 million people activity seeking work.… Read More

Research Brief: Employment – December 2021

Lackluster employment growth a sign of tight labor market. Employers added 210,000 personnel in November, below this year’s monthly average of 555,000 jobs. Part of the slowdown was due to modest onboarding in the leisure and hospitality sector. While accounting for roughly 40 percent of all gains made since April 2020, the sector was only responsible for about 10 percent of November’s job creation. Moving forward, a sustained period of elevated employment growth is unlikely. While… Read More

Research Brief: Retail Sales – December 2021

Retail sales continue to float well-above pre-pandemic levels. Consumers acted on holiday shopping plans earlier than normal, resulting in a more moderate improvement in retail spending last month than is typical for this time of year. Core retail sales ticked up 0.2 percent in November, driving the year-over-year gain to an impressive 16.5 percent. Gains in core sales were most pronounced at food and beverage stores, sporting goods, building material retailers and restaurants and bars.… Read More

Research Brief: Retail Sales – November 2021

Consumer spending healthy in October. Core retail sales, which excludes gasoline and motor vehicles, rose 1.4 percent last month. Year over year, the increase was 14.9 percent as shoppers are flush with capital from pandemic-relief bills and the economic recovery that has pushed unemployment below 5 percent. Sales at gasoline stations are the most robust, growing nearly 47 percent over the past 12 months. A sharp rise in energy demand due to the return to… Read More

Research Brief: Employment – November 2021

Job creation picks back up. After a slowdown in August and September, hiring improved in October as 531,000 personnel were added to staffs. A downshift in the number of coronavirus infections and the expiration of federal unemployment benefits likely contributed to the greater job creation. Employment growth was most prevalent in the leisure and hospitality sector, predominantly at bars and restaurants, as well as in professional and business services. Last month’s gains helped lower the… Read More

Research Brief: Gross Domestic Product 4Q 2021

Economic recovery downshifts in third quarter. GDP expanded at a 2.0 percent annualized rate in the third quarter as myriad head-winds weighed on growth. Supply chain issues are hampering consumption despite a record level of savings. Additionally, government stimulus from early 2021 that fueled personal expenditures in the second quarter had largely dissipated by the third quarter. Combined with a surge in COVID-19 cases that kept some people at home, these challenges made consumption the largest… Read More

Research Brief: Retail Sales – October 2021

Consumer spending sturdy last month. Unfazed by the end of federal unemployment benefits and other dissipating stimulus, core retail sales increased 0.7 percent in September and 13.5 percent from the same period last year. Although inflation, which climbed 0.4 percent last month, was a contributing factor to the rise, the overall spending picture remained brighter than anticipated. Lingering back-to-school shopping and wider office openings contributed to the gains as apparel and gas station spending advanced… Read More

Research Brief: Employment – October 2021

Hiring slows again in September. The complete expiration of federal unemployment insurance did not translate into accelerated job growth last month as the health crisis continued to present challenges. Employers added 194,000 personnel to payrolls in September, barely above the monthly average from more typical years such as 2018. Logistical logjams, infection worries and vaccine mandates contributed to last month’s slowdown; however, the greatest weight came from the public sector. Government payrolls fell by 123,000… Read More

Research Brief: Retail Sales – September 2021

Core retail sales reverse course in August. Shoppers remained active at the end of the summer, driven by online spending and back-to-school sales. Overall, core retail sales increased by 2.0 percent between July and August, largely due to an increase in nonstore spending of 5.3 percent. More people stayed home in some areas of the country to avoid the challenges associated with the much more contagious delta strain of COVID-19. Others kept away from restaurants,… Read More

Research Brief: Housing Market – September 2021

Tight multifamily vacancy supports permit surge. Across the residential sector, permit activity climbed in August. The rise was mostly attributed to multifamily, as filings for single-family houses remained relatively in line with preceding months. Meanwhile, apartment permits soared 15 percent month over month, reaching the highest level since June 2015. Greater construction is warranted by extremely tight vacancy, as apartment availability in June fell below 4 percent for just the second time in the past… Read More