Good Dog Day Numbers
It’s not just the humidity. As a business reporter, things tend to slow down during the dog days of summer. While the presidential election reaches its climax for boredom or excitement, a fresh round of economic indicators paint a rosy picture of our union as we enter the final weeks of summer.
Let’s start with some of the latest numbers from First Data’s SpendTrend Report. The all-important consumer spending increased 2.9% in July, marking the strongest pace so far this year. Travel spending grew 8.6% during July, with the hotel industry continuing its hot streak with 4.6% growth for the month. Growth in consumer spending slipped just slightly, but remains positive at 1% in May. Retail-only spending surged 3%, also its strongest growth in 2016.
Click HERE for a deeper look at the SpendTrend Report findings.
Outside the world of retail, a variety of economic indicators suggest that American workers may soon be receiving increased paychecks as productivity gains slow and weekly unemployment claims decrease. This is excellent news after a few soft months for indicators earlier this season.
While the American unemployment rate stayed steady at a very healthy-sounding 4.9%, employment numbers beat expectations and more people entered the labor market. While economists expected an increase of 180,000 new jobs in July, the actual figures came in closer to 250,000. Those gloomy May employment figures were also revised up to 24,000 from the previously reported 11,000—all good news. Current initial weekly unemployment claims haven’t looked this good since January of 2000—16 years ago for those of us who feel that new century was only a few short moments ago.
Oh yeah, and FWIW stock indexes are at all-time highs while oil prices are stuck at historic lows as the travel season winds down—suggesting further softness in such prices in the months ahead.
Lastly, in housing, delinquencies and foreclosures continued dropping, with the serious delinquency rate (loans 90 days or more past due) at 3.11%, which is down significantly from the previous quarter.
Don't believe anyone casting too much doubt on the American economy. Going by the numbers, things are looking pretty solid.