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The Numbers: Most Economic Indicators Remain Flat

Despite stagnant figures, optimism is name of game for many economy watchers

CHICAGO — UNEMPLOYMENT figures remained relatively unchanged in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate stands at 6.2%, a mere 0.1% increase from the June figure, and 209,000 jobs were added to non-farm payrolls, bringing the total number of new jobs added to 9.9 million since February 2010.

“We have now seen six consecutive months with job growth topping 200,000, and 53 consecutive months of private-sector job growth – the longest streak on record,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The unemployment rate was down significantly from 7.3% in July 2013.”

IN THE BEIGE BOOK issued July 16, the 12 Federal Reserve Districts, of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, reported expanding economies since the last report on June 4. New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco all reported moderate growth, while the other districts (Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis and Kansas City) reported modest growth. Most of the Districts indicated optimism for future growth.

THERE WAS ECONOMIC GROWTH in June, according to the latest Non-Manufacturing Institute for Supply Management Report on Business. According to Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, “The NMI® registered 56% in June, 0.3 percentage point lower than the May reading of 56.3%. This represents continued growth at a slightly slower rate in the non-manufacturing sector.”

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS reports a decline in pending home sales of 1.1% in June compared to the May figures. The decline came after three straight months of increases.

“Activity is notably higher than earlier this year,” says Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, “as prices have moderated and inventory levels have improved. However, supply shortages still exist in parts of the country, wages are flat, and tight credit conditions are deterring a higher number of potential buyers from fully taking advantage of lower interest rates.”

Despite this, Yun expects an increase for the year’s second half. “The good news is that price appreciation has decreased to its slowest pace since March 2012 behind much-needed increases in inventory. With rents rising 4% annually, potential buyers are less likely to experience sticker shock and can make smart decisions on whether or not it makes sense to buy or continue renting.”


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