Employment grew by 211,000 jobs in April. Through the first four months of 2017, employment has grown by a monthly average of 184,500 jobs, virtually matching the average gain through the first four months of 2016. 1
The unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% in April, its lowest point since reaching 4.3% in May 2001. A year ago, it stood at 5.0%. 1
The civilian labor force participation rate was 62.9% in April, just slightly higher than last year’s 62.8%. This ratio is the labor force (adults employed or actively looking for work) divided by the adult population, less those on active military duty. 2
If today’s economy were operating at the 65.9% average participation rate from 1980-2009, then today’s labor force would be larger by 7.6 million workers. 1
The share of mortgages delinquent by 30 days or more was 5.0% in February 2017, down from 5.5% a year earlier. According to CoreLogic®, that’s the lowest rate since September 2007. 2
Housing starts dipped 2.6% in April, although single-family starts eked out a 0.7% gain. Year-to-date, total housing starts are up 5.3% over the first four months of last year, while single-family starts are up 7.0% year-to-date over 2016. 3
Production at the nation’s factories, mines, and utilities rose 1.0% in April, the largest monthly gain in more than three years. Industrial production is up 2.2% over the past year but accelerated at a 6.4% annualized growth rate over the last three months. 4
Consumer prices rose 0.1% in April and 1.9% over the past year. Over the past ten years, the CPI rose at a 1.8% average annual rate. 5
Retail sales rose 0.4% in April and are up 4.5% from April 2016. That’s slightly better than the current expansion’s 4.4% average annual gain. 6
The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in Freddie Mac’s survey was 4.02% during the week ending May 18, down three basis points from the week before. The April average was 4.05%, and the March average was 4.20%. All rates quoted have fees and points averaging 0.4% to 0.5% of the loan amount.
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