The Monday Morning Quarterback
A quick analysis of important economic data released over the last week
The national economy continues its advance. Leading indicators continue to increase. Single family housing continues to advance both nationally and locally. Overall, the latest data indicates that the economy continues to move forward.
And because everyone loves rankings: According to recent Census population estimates, Phoenix almost overtook Philadelphia as the 5th most populous city in the U.S. in 2015. Phoenix is almost assured of assuming 5th place in 2016 and will then set its sights on Houston in the #4 slot while diligently watching San Antonio try to make up ground from behind. Grow, Phoenix, grow!
Initial claims for unemployment insurance are down 16,000 for the second week in May, representing a 5.4% decline from a week ago but a 0.7% increase from last year. The 4-week moving average is also up sharply due to the relatively strong showing reported in April.
- The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. was up 0.6% in April and now stands 1.9% above a year ago (see chart below). Every component except for consumer expectations contributed to the jump.
- Industrial production increased in April by 0.7% compared to the month prior after consecutive declines over the prior two months. Utilities jumped as demand for electricity and natural gas normalized while mining production fell. Total industrial production now stands 0.7% above last month but 1.1% below a year ago.
- The consumer price index (CPI-U) increased 0.4% in April on a seasonally adjusted basis and now stands 1.1% higher than a year ago. The base rate of inflation (all items less food and energy), was up 2.1% over the last 12 months.
- Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,116,000. This is 3.6% above March levels, but, 5.3% below April 2015. Single family permits were up 8.4% from a year ago. Single family starts are now 4.3% above a year ago.
- Existing home sales in the U.S. continued to gain ground. Single Family home sales increased 0.6% in April, representing a 6.2% increase from the prior year. This growth is encouraging considering home prices also continue to rise. Home prices posted a 4.8% month-over-month gain, 6.2% higher than one year ago.
- Builder confidence in the market for newly built single family homes remained unchanged in May. With a consistent level for four straight months now, it shows that builders remain cautiously optimistic about construction growth in 2016. Observing solid job growth and low mortgage rates, builders believe that these factors will sustain continued gains in the single family housing market in the months ahead.
Arizona’s unemployment claims fell in the second week of May and are now 3.6% below the same period in 2015.
- According to R.L. Brown, single family housing permits in Greater Phoenix continued to show good results in April. R.L.’s data indicates that 1,575 permits were issued in April, up 7.1% from a year ago. Year to date through April, permits stand at 5,833. That’s up 24.5% from the 4,684 reported for the similar 2015 period.
- Arizona Nonfarm employment grew by 3.1% (80,900 jobs) over the year in April. The largest gains included Professional and Business Services (19,900 jobs); Education and Health Services (16,500 jobs); and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (13,400 jobs). Only two sectors (Government and Natural Resources & Mining) reported losses. Arizona now ranks 8th out of the 50 states in terms of job growth so far in 2016.
- Statewide lodging performance continues to improve with a 4.5% gain in occupancy from the previous year. Gains in occupancy are attributed to a 4.7% increase in demand and a 0.1% increase in supply.
If you want to learn about some financing options, or if you’re looking to get pre-qualified, contact Parker Turk at Sun American Mortgage Company: 602-616-3774.