The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Chicago Fed National Activity Index Rises to +2.61 in May

All four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index made positive contributions in May, and all four categories increased from April.

Led by improvements in production- and employment-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) rose to +2.61 in May from –17.89 in April. All four broad categories of indicators used to construct the index made positive contributions in May, and all four categories increased from April. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, moved up to –6.65 in May from –7.50 in April.

The CFNAI Diffusion Index, which is also a three-month moving average, moved up to –0.43 in May from –0.58 in April. Fifty-seven of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in May, while 28 made negative contributions. Seventy-two indicators improved from April to May, while 13 indicators deteriorated. Of the indicators that improved, 17 made negative contributions.

Production-related indicators contributed +0.89 to the CFNAI in May, up from –5.94 in April. Industrial production increased 1.4 percent in May after falling 12.5 percent in April. The contribution of the sales, orders, and inventories category to the CFNAI increased to +0.02 in May from –1.59 in April.

Employment-related indicators contributed +1.53 to the CFNAI in May, up from –9.06 in April. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 2,509,000 in May after falling by 20,687,000 in April, and the unemployment rate decreased to 13.3 percent in May from 14.7 percent in the previous month. The contribution of the personal consumption and housing category to the CFNAI increased to +0.17 in May from –1.30 in April. Housing starts increased to 974,000 annualized units in May from 934,000 in the previous month.

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