October 15, 2018

Manufacturers, Small Businesses Optimistic About Future Growth


  • According to the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Outlook Survey, manufacturers’ optimism is at its highest level, increasing this past year to 93.9 percent. More manufacturers now believe sales, production, and employment will improve over the coming months. NAM explained, “The underlying data continue to show strength in the sector, especially in terms of job growth—more than 58 percent of manufacturers anticipate more hiring over the next year and about a quarter (23.1 percent) are planning employment growth of five percent or more. Wage growth is once again expected to rise at its fastest pace since 2001.”
  • The National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Optimism retreated a bit in September from its 45-year high set in August, but remained at its third-highest level ever. MFR, Inc. Chief Economist Josh Shapiro told MarketWatch “the NFIB measure is signaling accelerating gains in wages and salaries in the months ahead, and most recent readings are particularly strong as small business owners cite severe shortages of qualified workers.”
  • According to American Metal Market (subscription required), U.S. imports of unwrought aluminum, excluding imports from Canada, fell 25.1 percent in August. Imports fell 14.3 percent to 294,778 tons, the second-lowest monthly total so far in 2018.
  • Merchant wholesale sales increased 0.8 percent from July 2018 to August 2018 and 9.2 percent from August 2017 to August 2018. Inventories were up one percent for the month and 5.3 percent year-over-year.
  • According the U.S. Labor Department, due to higher fuel prices, prices for U.S. imports increased 0.5 percent in September after falling 0.4 percent in August and 0.1 percent in July. Export prices in the United States were unchanged in September.
  • The U.S. Labor Department also reported last week that 214,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the week that ended Oct. 6, up from 207,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also increased. The number of individuals who continued to receive jobless benefits rose to 1.66 million during the week that ended Sept. 29, up from 1.656 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell, however, declining to 1.656 million from 1.666 million the week before. That average was at its lowest level since August 1978.
  • In other economic news: the U.S. Producer Price Index rose 0.2 percent from August 2018 to September 2018 and 2.6 percent from September 2017 and September 2018; the U.S. Consumer Price Index rose 0.1 percent for the month and rose 2.3 percent year-over-year; and real average hourly earnings for all U.S. employees increased 0.3 percent from August to September and 0.5 percent year-over-year.