This is the first of a new monthly feature compiling the latest economic indicators to provide a more holistic view of the state of the economy.
The long climb to economic recovery may be beginning as a variety of economic indicators posted more positive results in May and June.While not all of the indicators posted positive results, many of those remaining negative declined at a slower rate. Though the outlook for recovery is still uncertain, many economists view these shifts as signs that the U.S. economy is heading into recovery phase with growth possible in 2010.
With the current recession in its nineteenth month, it is already longer and more widespread than the recessions in 1990-1991 and 2000-2001, according to Nouriel Roubini of the RGE Monitor, an economic analysis firm.
Here is a rundown of some key numbers from the past month:
- Housing starts were up 3.6 percent in June when compared with the May rate, while remaining 46 percent below the June 2008 rate, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department for Housing and Urban Development. Single-family housing starts increased by 14.4 percent, following a bump in May of 7.5 percent. New construction authorized by permits also improved to an annual rate of 563,000, up 8.7 percent from May. More
- Construction spending posted a slight decline of 0.9 percent in May, which offset the gains in April of 0.7 percent, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Overall, construction spending has remained relatively stable since the beginning of 2009. Construction spending in May 2009 was estimated at an annual rate of $964.0 billion. More
- Wholesale revenues inched upward in May to $311.3 billion, improving 0.2 percent from the revised April level, the Commerce Department reported. Additionally, the April level was revised upward by 0.4 percent, flat with the March level. Inventories were down 0.8 percent from April level at $402.2 billion. Year-over-year, wholesale trade sales were down 19.9 percent. More
- Industrial production declined 0.4 percent in June after falling 1.2 percent in May. Second quarter production fell at an annual rate of 11.6 percent, a more moderate contraction than the 19.1 percent experienced in the first quarter. Capacity utilization fell to its lowest level since 1967, hitting 68 percent in June. More
- New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.2 percent in May to $347.9 billion, according to figures reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. New orders for durable goods totaled $163.4 billion, up 1.8 percent. New orders for manufactured nondurable goods increased $1.2 billion or 0.7 percent to $184.5 billion.
- The Institute for Supply Management’s New Order Index declined 1.9 percentage points in June to 49.2 percent. A New Orders Index above 48.8 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Census Bureau’s series on manufacturing orders (in constant 2000 dollars). While June’s decline offset some of the gains made in May – the first increase in 17 months, the figure remains higher than April 2009.
- The June PMI, as reported by the Institute for Supply Management, was 44.8 percent, a gain of two percentage points over May’s result. While the below-50 number still indicates contraction, the rate of contraction is slowing. Seven of the 18 industries included in the index reported growth in June. More
- The trend of inventory destocking appears to be nearing its end, as the Customers’ Inventories Index was 43.5 percent in June, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report On Business. This is the third consecutive month the inventories index has remained below 50 percent. A number below 50 percent indicates ISM respondents believe their customers’ inventories to be "too low." More
- The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.7 percent in June, the third consecutive month of improvement. The composite indexes provided by The Conference Board suggest that the recession will continue to ease and that the economy may begin to recover in the near term. More