Led by declines in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) moved down to –0.26 in May from +0.57 in April. Three of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index decreased from April, and three of the four categories made negative contributions to the index in May. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, declined to +0.04 in May from +0.21 in April.
The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, decreased to –0.08 in May from +0.10 in April. Thirty-two of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in May, while 53 made negative contributions. Twenty-six indicators improved from April to May, while 56 indicators deteriorated and three were unchanged. Of the indicators that improved, ten made negative contributions.
The contribution from production-related indicators to the CFNAI declined to –0.16 in May from +0.53 in April. Total industrial production was unchanged in May after moving up 1.1 percent in April, and manufacturing production decreased 0.4 percent in May after increasing 1.1 percent in the previous month.
Employment-related indicators contributed –0.02 to the CFNAI in May, down from +0.12 in April. Civilian employment decreased by 233,000 in May after increasing by 156,000 in the previous month; and nonfarm payrolls increased by 138,000 in May, following a gain of 174,000 in April.
The contribution of the personal consumption and housing category to the CFNAI edged down to –0.09 in May from –0.07 in April. Housing starts decreased to 1,092,000 annualized units in May from 1,156,000 in April, and housing permits decreased to 1,168,000 annualized units in May from 1,228,000 in the previous month.
The sales, orders, and inventories category made a contribution of +0.02 to the CFNAI in May, up slightly from –0.01 in April.
The CFNAI was constructed using data available as of June 22, 2017. At that time, May data for 51 of the 85 indicators had been published. For all missing data, estimates were used in constructing the index. The April monthly index value was revised to +0.57 from an initial estimate of +0.49, and the March monthly index value was revised to –0.18 from last month’s estimate of +0.07. 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 revision to the April monthly index value was primarily due to the latter, while the revision to the March monthly index value was primarily due to the former.