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January 16, 2018

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: U.S. Small Business Optimism Hits Record High In 2017

  • The National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Optimism Index hit a new record in 2017. The average monthly reading for the index in 2017 was 104.8. The previous record, set in 2004, was 104.6. In December, more small business owners told NFIB they plan to make additional capital investments and have more jobs open.
  • Speaking of job openings: there were a total of 5.9 million jobs open in the United States in November 2017, a slight decline from the month before.
  • The U.S. Labor Department also announced last week that 261,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended January 6, up from 250,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also increased. The number of individuals who continued to receive benefits fell, however, declining to 1.867 million for the week that ended December 30 from 1.902 million the week before. That figure was at its lowest level since December 1973. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for U.S. imports increased 0.1 percent in December, following a 0.8-percent rise in November. BLS said “higher fuel prices more than offset a decline in the price index for nonfuel prices in December.” U.S. export prices fell 0.1 percent in December after rising 0.5 percent in November.
  • In other economic news: real average hourly earnings for all U.S. employees increased 0.2 percent from November 2017 to December 2017 and 0.4 percent from December 2016 to December 2017; the U.S. Consumer Price Index increased 0.1 percent from November to December and 2.1 percent year-over-year; and the U.S. Producer Price Index fell 0.1 percent for the month, but increased 2.6 percent during 2017.