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Today's Facts

REAL WAGES HAVE FALLEN 2.1% UNDER BIDEN

Key Points:

  • Real average hourly earnings are hourly earnings adjusted for inflation. They are one measure of real wages, which represent the economic return to work.
  • Despite average hourly earnings trending up, wages are still down after adjusting for inflation.
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.3% in January from December and is up 3.1% in the last year.
  • Real average hourly earnings have fallen from $35.31 in January 2021 to $34.55 in January 2023, a 2.1% decline.

U.S. SHOPPERS CUT BACK IN JANUARY

Key Points:

  • Retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, restaurants and online, fell 0.8% in January from December after increased spending for the holiday season.
  • The change for December was revised down from a 0.6% gain to 0.4%.
  • Excluding autos, retail sales fell by 0.6% over the month.
  • Retail sales are not adjusted for inflation and reflect price differences as well as purchase amounts.
  • Total sales for the November 2023 through January 2024 period were up 3.1% from the same period a year ago, mirroring CPI data released earlier this month showing prices have increased 3.1% in the last year.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor retail sales.

INFLATION HIGHER THAN EXPECTED IN JANUARY, PRICES UP 3.1% IN LAST YEAR

Key Points:

  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.3% in January after rising 0.2% in December.
  • CPI increased 3.1% from a year ago, down from 3.4% in December, but above consensus of 2.9%.
  • The index for shelter rose 0.6%, the index for food rose 0.4%, and the energy index fell 0.9% over the month.
  • The index for food at home increased 0.4% over the month while the index for food away from home rose 0.5%.
  • The core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.4% in January and is up 3.9% from the previous year.
  • The energy index is down 4.6%, the food index is up 2.6%, and shelter is up 6.0% from the previous year.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor CPI.

U.S. ADDED 353K JOBS IN JANUARY

Key Points:

  • Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 353,000 in January and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%.
  • Consensus among economists was a gain of 185,000 jobs.
  • The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised up by 9,000, from +173,000 to +182,000, and the change for December was revised up by 117,000, from +216,000 to +333,000. With these revisions, employment in November and December combined is 126,000 higher than previously reported.
  • Professional and business services added 74,000 jobs in January, employment in health care rose by 70,000, retail trade employment increased by 45,000, government added 36,000 jobs, and employment in social assistance rose by 30,000.
  • In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.19 to $34.55.
  • The average workweek for all private employees fell by 0.2 hours to 34.1 hours in January.
  • The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.5% and is 0.9% below its February 2020 level.
  • In January, the unemployed population was unchanged at 6.2 million but job openings rose to 9.0 million in December.

HOME PRICES ACCELERATED IN NOVEMBER

Key Points:

  • The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 5.1% in the year that ended in November after rising 4.7% in October.
  • The 20-City Composite posted a year-over-year increase of 5.4%, up from a 4.9% increase in the previous month.
  • The 10-City Composite showed an increase of 6.2%, up from a 5.7% increase in the previous month.
  • Detroit once again reported the highest year-over-year gain among the 20 cities with an 8.2% increase in November, followed again by San Diego with an 8% increase.
  • For the third month in a row, Portland fell 0.7% and remained the only city reporting lower prices in November versus a year ago.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor home prices.

JOB OPENINGS UNEXPECTEDLY RISE TO HIGHEST IN THREE MONTHS

Key Points:

  • The number of available jobs since May 2021 continues to outnumber Americans looking for work.
  • Job openings ticked up to 9.0 million in December, above consensus of 8.75 million, and the highest since September.
  • Over the month, job openings increased in professional and business services (+239,000) but decreased in wholesale trade (-83,000).
  • The U.S. added 216,000 jobs in December but there were 6.3 million people unemployed.
  • The number of hires decreased in health care and social assistance (-119,000) but increased in state and local government, excluding education (+35,000).
  • The number total separations were little changed at 5.4 million in December.
  • The number of total separations decreased in health care and social assistance (-91,000) but increased in wholesale trade (+39,000).
  • Within separations, quits (3.4 million) and layoffs and discharges (1.6 million) changed little.
  • The number of quits decreased in health care and social assistance (-71,000) and in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-35,000). The number of quits increased in wholesale trade (+63,000).
  • The number of layoffs and discharges increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+43,000) and in state and local government, excluding education (+18,000).
  • The labor force participation rate fell 0.3% to 62.5% in December and is 0.9% below its February 2020 level.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor unemployment and job openings.

INFLATION REMAINS MODERATE WHILE CONSUMERS KEEP SPENDING

Key Points:

  • U.S. consumer spending rose by 0.7%, or $133.9 billion, in December, after rising 0.4% in November.
  • Personal income increased by 0.3%, or $60.0 billion, in December, after rising 0.4% in November.
  • The overall personal consumption expenditures price index rose 0.2% in December and is up 2.6% from a year prior.
  • The core personal consumption expenditures price index, which excludes food and energy, also rose 0.2% in December and is up 2.9% from a year prior.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor spending, prices, and income.

DECEMBER NEW HOME SALES RISE AFTER NOVEMBER’S DROP

Key Points:

  • New home sales rose 8.0% in December from November to a seasonally adjusted 664K.
  • New home sales were 4.4% higher than December 2022.
  • An estimated 668K new homes were sold in 2023. This is 4.2% above the 2022 figure of 641K.
  • The median sales price of new houses sold in December 2023 was $413,200 and the average sales price was $487,300.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor home sales.

DECEMBER UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE IN 15 STATES

Key Points:

  • Unemployment rates rose in 15 states, fell in one, and remained stable in 34 states and the District of Columbia in December.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7% in December.
  • In total, 16 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.7 percent, 5 states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 29 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.
  • Eighteen states and the District had jobless rate increases from a year earlier, 15 states had decreases, and 17 states had little change.
  • Maryland and North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in December at 1.9%, followed by South Dakota at 2.0%.
  • Nevada has the highest unemployment rate again at 5.4%, followed by California and the District at 5.1%.
  • In December, 15 states had over-the-month unemployment rate increases, the largest of which were in Massachusetts and Rhode Island (+0.3%).

2023 HOME SALES LOWEST SINCE 1995

Key Points:

  • Existing-home sales fell 1.0% in December from November, after rising in November, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.78 million.
  • On an annual basis, existing-home sales (4.09 million) dropped to the lowest level since 1995, while the median price reached a record high of $389,800 in 2023.
  • Existing-home sales fell 6.2% from one year ago.
  • The median existing-home sales price for November rose 4.4% from one year ago to $382,600 for the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year price increases.
  • First-time buyers were responsible for 29% of sales in December, down from 31% in November and December 2022.
  • “The latest month’s sales look to be the bottom before inevitably turning higher in the new year,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor home sales.