Regional U.S. Manufacturing Readings Strong In March
- The U.S. Department of Commerce announced last week that the nation’s economy expanded at a 4.3 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 after expanding at a 33.4 percent rate in the third quarter. The growth rate for the last three months of the year was slightly higher than the 4.1 percent level, the Commerce Department estimated just a month ago. Read the full report here. In related news, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago announced that its National Activity Index, a key gauge of future growth, was -1.09 in February, down from +0.75 in January.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City announced that its manufacturing index for the Midwest region rose to +26 in March from +24 in February. The bank said the growth in district manufacturing activity was driven more by durable goods plants for primary metals, machinery, transportation equipment, furniture, and miscellaneous manufacturing. Month-over-month indexes for shipments, new orders, and order backlog expanded at a faster pace in March and supplier delivery time was very high as well. Read the full report here.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said its manufacturing index rose from +14 in February to +17 in March due to a sharp increase in the shipments index and steady levels for new orders and employment. Manufacturers also noted that finding workers with the necessary skills remained difficult and expected these trends to continue in the next six months. Read the full report here.
- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of individuals filing for federal unemployment benefits fell to 684,000 for the week that ended March 20, from 781,000 the week before. It was the first time since mid-March 2021 that weekly applications for jobless benefits were below 700,000. Despite the improvement, a total of 18.9 million people continue to collect jobless benefits, up from 18.2 million in the previous week. Approximately one-third of those 18.9 million recipients are receiving extended federal aid programs, which means they have been unemployed for at least six months. In related news: personal incomes in the United States decreased 7.1 percent in February and personal consumption expenditures fell one percent.
- In other economic news: global auto production declined 16 percent in 2020 and was down 19 percent in the United States; existing home sales in the United States fell 6.6 percent from January 2021 to February 2021, but rose 9.1 percent from February 2020 to February 2021; new homes sales in the United States fell 18.2 percent between January 2021 and February 2021, but was up 8.2 percent year-over-year.