CHICAGO — U.S. EMPLOYMENT figures remained relatively unchanged in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate during the week of Sept. 22 stood at 6.1%, down 0.1% from the July figure, and 142,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls.
“With today’s report, businesses have added more than 10 million jobs over the last four and a half years,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “That makes 54 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, the longest streak on record.”
He also noted the significantly lower 6.1% unemployment rate compared to the 7.2% rate of August 2013.
IN THE BEIGE BOOK issued Sept. 3, the 12 Federal Reserve Districts, of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, reported economic activity had expanded since the July report. New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco districts all reported moderate growth, while the Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis and Kansas City districts reported modest growth. Boston reported that business activity appeared to be improving, and Richmond reported further strengthening.
THE LATEST NON-MANUFACTURING Institute for Supply Management Report on Business shows there was economic growth in August. The NMI® registered 59.6%, 0.9 percentage point higher than the July reading of 58.7%. It was the highest reading for the composite index since its inception in January 2008. Also, the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 65%, which was 2.6% higher than the July rate; it’s the highest reading for that index since December 2004.
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of Realtors reports that pending homes sales rebounded in July and have now risen in four of the last five months. Favorable housing conditions are behind July’s increased contract activity, says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
“Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 2012,” he says. “The increase in the number of new and existing homes for sale is creating less competition and is giving prospective buyers more time to review their options before submitting an offer.”
Yun, however, expects existing-homes sales to be down 2.1% this year to 4.98 million, compared to 5.09 million sales of existing homes in 2013.
LESS THAN ONE-QUARTER of Americans (22%) say there is too little government regulation of business and industry, while about half (49%) say there is too much regulation. An additional 27% say the level of regulation is about right. These attitudes have been consistent over the past five years; prior to that, the percentage who said there was too much regulation rose between 2008 and 2010. The latest data are from Gallup’s annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 4-7.