THERIGHTFACTS.ORG

The Data that Drives Policy Lives Here.

Be ready with The Right Facts. Join the e-mail list.

Today's Facts

APRIL UNEMPLOYMENT RATES DOWN IN FIVE STATES, UP IN TWO

Key Points:

  • Unemployment rates rose in two states, fell in five, and remained stable in 43 states and the District of Columbia in April.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 3.9% in April but is 0.5% higher than last year.
  • In total, 24 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.9%, 5 states and the District had higher rates, and 21 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.
  • Thirty states had unemployment rate increases from April 2023, the largest of which was in Rhode Island (+1.4%).
  • North Dakota and South Dakota had the lowest jobless rates in April, 2.0% each.
  • The rate in Mississippi, 2.8%, set a new series low.
  • California had the highest unemployment rate at 5.3%, closely followed by the District of Columbia at 5.2%, and Nevada at 5.1%.
  • Five states had unemployment rate decreases in April: Arizona, Maine, Mississippi, and Montana (-0.2%) and Virginia (-0.1%).
  • Florida and Maryland had the only rate increases (+0.1%).

REAL WAGES DOWN 2.7% 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 April from March and is up 3.4% in the last year.
  • Real average hourly earnings have fallen from $35.57 in January 2021 to $34.75 in April 2024, a 2.7% decline.
  • Overall, prices have increased 19.3% since Biden took office in January 2021.

RETAIL SALES UNEXPECTEDLY FLAT IN APRIL

Key Points:

  • Retail sales, a measure of purchases at stores, restaurants and online, were unchanged in April, well below consensus of 0.4%.
  • March was revised down from 0.7% to 0.6%.
  • Excluding autos, retail sales rose by 0.2% over the month, down from the revised 0.9% gain in March.
  • Retail sales were 3.0% above April 2023 but CPI data released earlier this week showed prices have increased 3.4% in the last year.
  • Retail sales are not adjusted for inflation and reflect price differences as well as purchase amounts.
  • Total sales for the February 2024 through April 2024 period were up 3.0% from the same period a year ago.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor retail sales.

INFLATION EASED SLIGHTLY IN APRIL, PRICES STILL UP 3.4% FROM LAST YEAR

Key Points:

  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.3% in April, after rising 0.4% in March.
  • CPI increased 3.4% from a year ago, down from 3.5% in February and consensus of 3.5%.
  • CPI has remained above 3% for 37 consecutive months dating back to April 2021.
  • The index for shelter rose 0.4% and the energy index rose 1.1% over the month.
  • The index for food at home fell 0.2% over the month while the index for food away from home rose 0.3%.
  • The core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3% in April and is up 3.6% from the previous year.
  • The energy index is up 2.6%, the food index is up 2.2%, and shelter is up 5.5% from the previous year.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor CPI.

U.S. HIRING SLOWED IN APRIL

Key Points:

  • Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 175,000 in April and the unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 3.9%.
  • Consensus among economists was a gain of 243,000 jobs.
  • The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised down by 34,000, from +270,000 to +236,000, and the change for March was revised up by 12,000, from +303,000 to +315,000. With these revisions, employment in February and March combined is 22,000 lower than previously reported.
  • Health care added 56,000 jobs in April, employment in social assistance increased by 31,000, transportation and warehousing rose by 22,000, and retail trade added 20,000 jobs.
  • In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.07 to $34.75.
  • The average workweek for all private employees edged down by 0.1 hours to 34.3 hours in April.
  • The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.7% and is 0.7% below its February 2020 level.
  • In April, the unemployed population was flat at 6.5 million but job openings fell to 8.5 million in March.

JOB OPENINGS FALL, QUITS EASE IN MARCH

Key Points:

  • The number of available jobs since May 2021 continues to outnumber Americans looking for work.
  • Job openings fell from 8.8 million in February to 8.5 million in March, below consensus of 8.7 million.
  • There are 1.1 million fewer job openings than March 2023.
  • In March, job openings decreased in construction (-182,000) and in finance and insurance (-158,000), but increased in state and local government education (+68,000).
  • The U.S. added 303,000 jobs in March but there were 6.4 million people unemployed.
  • The number of job openings for February was revised up by 57,000 to 8.8 million, the number of hires was revised down by 37,000 to 5.8 million, and the number of total separations was revised down by 20,000 to 5.5 million.
  • In March, the number of hires was little changed at 5.5 million but was down by 455,000 over the year.
  • The number of total separations in March decreased to 5.2 million, and the rate was 3.3%.
  • Over the month, the number of total separations increased in private educational services (+21,000).
  • Within separations, quits (3.3 million) and layoffs and discharges (1.5 million) changed little.
  • In March, the number of quits was little changed at 3.3 million but was down by 480,000 over the year.
  • In March, the number and rate of layoffs and discharges changed little at 1.5 million and 1.0 percent, respectively. The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in arts, entertainment, and recreation (-39,000) but increased in private educational services (+18,000).
  • The labor force participation rate rose at 62.7% and is 0.7% below its February 2020 level.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor unemployment and job openings.

HOME PRICES TREND EVEN HIGHER IN FEBRUARY

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 6.4% in the year that ended in February, up from 6.0% in January.
  • The 20-City Composite posted a year-over-year increase of 7.3%, up from a 6.6% increase in the previous month.
  • The 10-City Composite showed an increase of 8.0%, up from a 7.4% increase in the previous month.
  • San Diego again reported the highest year-over-year gain among the 20 cities with an 11.4% increase in February, followed by Chicago and Detroit with increases of 8.9%.
  • Portland, while still holding the lowest rank after reporting two consecutive months of the smallest year-over-year growth, had a significant annual increase of 2.2% in February.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor home prices.

CORE PRICES TICKED UP IN MARCH

Key Points:

  • U.S. consumer spending rose by 0.8%, or $160.9 billion, in March, the same reading as February.
  • Personal income increased by 0.5%, or $122.0 billion, in March, after rising 0.3% in February.
  • The overall personal consumption expenditures price index rose 0.3% in March and is up 2.7% from a year prior.
  • The core personal consumption expenditures price index, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3% in March and is up 2.8% from a year prior.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor spending, prices, and income.

NEW HOME SALES SURGED IN MARCH

Key Points:

  • New home sales rose 8.8% in March from February to a seasonally adjusted 693K.
  • New home sales were 8.3% higher than March 2023.
  • The median sales price of new houses sold in March was $430,700 and the average sales price was $524,800.
  • The Right Facts will continue to monitor home sales.

29 STATES HAVE HIGHER UNEMPLOYMENT RATES THAN LAST YEAR

Key Points:

  • Unemployment rates rose in one state, fell in six, and remained stable in 43 states and the District of Columbia in March.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate fell 0.1% to 3.8% in March but is 0.3% higher than last year.
  • In total, 23 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 3.8%, five states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 22 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.
  • Twenty-nine states had jobless rate increases from a year earlier, one state had decreased, and twenty states and the District had little change.
  • North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in January at 2.0%, followed by South Dakota at 2.1% and Vermont at 2.2%.
  • The rate in Mississippi, 3.0%, set a new series low.
  • California had the highest unemployment rate again at 5.3%, followed by the District of Columbia at 5.2%.
  • In March, six states had over-the-month unemployment rate decreases, the largest of which was in Arizona (-0.3%).