Home » Chicago Fed National Activity Index Edges Down in March
Chicago Fed National Activity Index Edges Down in March
April 19, 2009
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index was -2.96 in March, down slightly from -2.82 in February. All four broad categories of indicators continued to make negative contributions to the index in March.
The three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, increased to -3.27 in March from -3.57 in the previous month. March's CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was well below its historical trend. With regard to inflation, it indicates little inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.
Employment-related indicators made a large negative contribution of -1.27 to the index in March after contributing -1.29 in the previous month. Total nonfarm payroll employment declined 663,000 in March, after decreasing 651,000 in February; and manufacturing employment decreased 161,000 in March, after declining 169,000 in the previous month.
The production and income category of indicators also made a large contribution of -0.93 to the index in March after contributing -0.78 in February. Total industrial production decreased 1.5 percent in March for the second consecutive month. In addition, manufacturing capacity utilization declined to 65.8 percent in March, the lowest level in the history of the series since 1948.
The consumption and housing category made a contribution of -0.60 to the index in March for the second consecutive month. Housing starts across the nation decreased to 510,000 annualized units in March from 572,000 in February. However, housing starts increased in the Midwest and Northeast. The sales, orders, and inventories category also made a negative contribution of -0.16 in March.
Thirteen of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the index in March, while 72 made negative contributions. Forty-four indicators improved from February to March, while 41 indicators deteriorated. Of the improved indicators, 35 made negative contributions. The index was constructed using data available as of April 16, 2009. At that time, March data for 50 of the 85 indicators had been published. For all missing data, estimates were used in constructing the index.
The February monthly index was revised to -2.82 from an initial estimate of -2.83. Revisions to the monthly index can be attributed to two main factors: revisions in previously published data and differences between the estimates of previously unavailable data and subsequently published data. The slight upward revision to the February monthly index was primarily due to revisions in previously published data.