The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Increases in May

The indexs three-month moving average increased to -0.16.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index moved up to -0.17 in May from -0.19 in April. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from April, but only the employment, unemployment and hours category made a positive contribution to the index in May.

The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, increased slightly to -0.16 in May from -0.20 in April. May’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests that growth in national economic activity was somewhat below its historical trend. The economic growth reflected in this level of the CFNAI-MA3 suggests subdued inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.

The CFNAI Diffusion Index which is also a three-month moving average, was unchanged at -0.13 in May. Thirty-five of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in May, while 50 made negative contributions. Forty-three indicators improved from April to May, while 41 indicators deteriorated and one was unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, 21 made negative contributions.

The contribution from production-related indicators to the CFNAI ticked up to -0.17 in May from -0.19 in April. Industrial production was down 0.2 percent in May after decreasing 0.5 percent in April. The sales, orders, and inventories category made a neutral contribution to the CFNAI in May, up slightly from -0.01 in April.

Employment-related indicators remained at +0.10 in May. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 280,000 in May, following a gain of 221,000 in the previous month; however, the unemployment rate edged up to 5.5 percent in May from 5.4 percent in April.

The contribution of the personal consumption and housing category to the CFNAI was steady at -0.09 in May. Housing starts decreased to 1,036,000 annualized units in May from 1,165,000 in April. However, housing permits increased to 1,275,000 annualized units in May from 1,140,000 in the previous month.

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