economic indicators

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US Economy Shrank 2.9%— Worst Since '09

Number much higher than expected

(Newser) - The US economy shrank at a staggering annual rate of 2.9% in the January-March quarter as a harsh winter contributed to the biggest contraction since the depths of the recession five years ago. The Commerce Department says the first-quarter contraction was even more severe than the 1% annual decline... More »

Household Debt Takes Biggest Leap Since 2007

And that might mean good things for the economy

(Newser) - US household debt spiked by $241 billion in the fourth quarter, up to $11.5 trillion, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It's the biggest increase seen since the financial crisis, and the first on a year-over-year basis. That might actually be... More »

Economy Grew 4.1% in Q3

It's the best mark since 2011

(Newser) - The US' GDP grew at a 4.1% annualized rate in the third quarter, its best showing since the last three months of 2011, the Commerce Department announced today. The number is revised upward from the Department's initial 3.6% estimate. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had been expecting that... More »

Private Job Report Disappoints

Economy adds 166K new jobs; August revised downward

(Newser) - US businesses added 166,000 jobs last month, a sign of only modest improvement in hiring, according to a report today from ADP. The payroll company also said that private employers added just 159,000 jobs in August and 161,000 in July, both slightly lower than the previous estimates.... More »

FBI: Our Economic Data Is at Risk

Flaw in system could allow hackers to access 'black box'

(Newser) - The FBI has found "a number of operational vulnerabilities" in the system the government uses to protect sensitive economic information, the Wall Street Journal reports. As part of its long-running attempt to figure out what's behind the suspicious trading activity that often precedes major economic news, the bureau... More »

Unemployment Falls to 7.4%, a 4-Year Low

...but dig deeper and jobs report starts to look pretty bad

(Newser) - Unemployment fell to a 4.5-year low of 7.4% in July, after employers added 162,000 jobs, the Labor Department announced today. But don't celebrate. That 162,000 figure was the lowest since March, and significantly less than analysts were expecting—those surveyed by Bloomberg expected to see... More »

US Retail Sales Rise 0.5%

Holiday sales indicate that no one was worried about fiscal cliff

(Newser) - US consumers increased their spending at retail businesses in December, buying more autos, furniture, and clothing. Steady job growth and lower gas prices kept consumers shopping for the holidays, despite worries about potential tax increases. The Commerce Department said today that retail sales rose 0.5% in December from November,... More »

Housing Starts Soar to Highest Since 2008

Almost all of the growth comes in apartments, townhouses

(Newser) - The housing market might finally be coming around. The number of new homes that began construction last month took a surprise 3.6% leap to an 894,000 annual rate—the highest since July 2008, the Commerce Department announced today. That's well above the 840,000 economists surveyed by... More »

Consumer Confidence Soars to Almost 5-Year High

It hasn't been this strong since well before the financial crisis

(Newser) - Americans' confidence in the economy surged last month to the highest level in nearly five years, as many were encouraged by an improving job market. The Conference Board says its consumer confidence index increased in October to 72.2. That's up from 70.3 in September and the highest... More »

FedEx Expects Big Holiday Season

Prediction seen as a positive sign for the economy

(Newser) - FedEx is expecting to ship 280 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, a 13% improvement on last year's figures that means the Memphis-based company will hire 20,000 additional workers to handle the surge. FedEx attributed its growing shipment figures to the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping,... More »

'Mystery State' Behind Plunging Jobless Claims

Apparent snafu, probably by California, leads to 4-year low

(Newser) - Jobless claims plunged to 339,000 this week, putting them at a four-and-a-half-year low and drastically lower than the 370,000 economists expected, the Labor Department announced today. But there was a fly in the ointment. A department spokesperson said that one large state accounted for a large portion of... More »

GDP Growth Revised Down to Anemic 1.3%

On the bright side, jobless claims fell

(Newser) - US economic growth was even worse than we thought in the April-June quarter, growing at a pace of just 1.3%, the Commerce Department announced today, down from its previous estimate of 1.7%. About half of that big revision reflected the punishing effect the summer's drought has had... More »

Consumer Confidence Soars Past Expectations

There's good housing news, too

(Newser) - Consumer confidence soared to a seven-month high, flying far above analyst expectations, according to a Conference Board report released today. The board's index came in at 70.3, up from 61.3 a month earlier. That's a whole heck of a lot better than the 63 that the... More »

Economy Has Hit Bottom, Census Suggests

On the bright side, there's nowhere to go but up, census suggests

(Newser) - Are you a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty type? Because that will have a lot to do with how you read the American Community Survey, a compilation of 2011 Census data and unofficial figures from the first quarter of 2012 giving us a glimpse at the US economy. With that much... More »

Fed Waffles Over Need for More Stimulus

Some members push more action, others think it's Congress' job

(Newser) - With the US economy stalled, eurozone in crisis, and Chinese economy slowing down, the Federal Reserve is increasingly talking about action to boost the American economy, reports the LA Times . But for now the central bank is divided about the need for action, according to the just-released minutes for its... More »

Bernanke: Fed Will Do More to Boost Economy

Stock market soars

(Newser) - The Federal Reserve isn't ready to take its foot off the gas pedal. In a speech this morning in Arlington, Virginia, Ben Bernanke said that while the Fed was encouraged by the downward trend in unemployment numbers, it believes that the economy needs “continued accommodative policies” to keep... More »

Consumer Confidence Soars

It neared its post-recession peak this month

(Newser) - Are American shoppers at last stepping back from the ledge? The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index shot up 10 points in December to 64.5, the AP reports. That's its highest reading since April and closing in on its post-recession peak of 72, which was achieved in February.... More »

Economy Shows Signs of Life: GDP Jumps 2.5%

Meanwhile, new unemployment claims fell

(Newser) - The US’ total economic output shot up 2.5% from July through September, after two dismal quarters of rising just 0.4% and 1.3%, according to a new GDP report released today. Consumers amped up their spending on both durable goods and services, and business investments soared 16.3%—... More »

Consumer Spending Jumps

Salaries and wages increase, too, in July report

(Newser) - The Commerce Department delivered a welcome bit of positive economic news today, reporting that consumer spending shot up 0.8% in July. That's the metric's best move in five months, and more or less laps the 0.4% to 0.5% economists had expected, the Wall Street Journal... More »

Rare Good News: Jobless Claims Fall

...below the all-important 400K line, to 398K

(Newser) - Here’s something you don’t see every day: good news from the labor market. New jobless claims fell by 24,000 in the week ending on July 23, to 398,000, the Labor Department announced today. That’s the lowest level of job loss since April, and significantly better... More »

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