July 13, 2020

Some Promising News About North American Economic Recovery


  • The U.S. Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows millions of Americans returned to work in May. Specifically, job openings totaled nearly 5.4 million for the month, up from five million in April. Hirings rose 6.5 million from the 4.05 million in April, and separations declined nearly 60 percent to 4.14 million while the layoff rate fell from 5.9 percent in April down to 1.4 percent in May. Even with the good news, however, May ended with 21 million unemployed workers, or nearly four for every job opening.
  • Surging coronavirus, unemployment, and recession are severe headwinds. According to the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI), however, if commercial truck traffic at the Canadian border is any indication, manufacturing activity could have returned to its year-ago activity level in recent weeks. MAPI pointed out last week that, according to one analyst, truck crossings, which declined 33 percent in April, were back up to 87,550 between June 29 and July 5, about the same number as last year. MAPI said these crossings “can signal supply chain health, particularly for the automotive industry.”
  • According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “how much credit consumers are taking on is a good signal about their confidence in the economy and their own financial situations. They take on more credit when they think things are good and their personal finances will remain strong in the future. They take on less debt when they feel the opposite.” The Federal Reserve reported last week that consumer credit fell more than 5 percent in May on an annualized basis. That marks a 0.4 percent decline from credit levels in April and is a much smaller decline than in April when credit fell 20% on an annual basis or 1.7 percent from March.
  • In other economic news: the U.S. Producer Price Index for final demand fell 0.2 percent from May 2020 to June 2020 and 0.8 percent between June 2019 and June 2020; and in the week ending July 4, 1.314 million individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits in the United States, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week’s revised level.