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The number of job openings in November dropped to 6.888 million compared to 7.079 million the previous month, but there are still 870,000 more job openings than there are unemployed seeking work. Over the last 12 months the were a total 68 million hires and 65.6 million separations leading to a net yearly gain of 2.4 million jobs. In the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for December, 23% of survey respondents reported that finding qualified labor was their top business problem, 35% of respondents reporting having increased worker compensation and 24% planned to increase compensation.
The minutes from the December 18-19 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting outlined that meeting participants judged that the December rate increase would bring the target federal funds rate to close to the lower end of a longer-run neutral interest rate. Participants also noted that financial market volatility and global growth concerns made the timeline for future increases less clear than it had been previously, and that the Committee could “afford to be patient about any further policy firming”. Updates to September’s median economic projections included a drop in 2019 GDP from 2.5% to 2.3%, with longer run GDP projected +0.1% higher at 1.9%, a drop in the longer run unemployment rate from 4.5% to 4.4%, and a drop in core inflation over the near term from 2.1% to 2.0%. As a result of the updated projections, the median estimates for rate increases dropped from 3 increases to 2 for 2019, and from 2 increases to 1 for 2020, with a longer run target rate dropping to 2.8% from a previous estimate of 3.0%.
Overall monthly consumer prices dropped -0.1% largely due to a -7.5% drop in gasoline prices in December, and yearly consumer price index (CPI) dropped -0.3% to a 1.9% yearly rate. Energy prices were down -0.3% for the year after the second consecutive month of drops in the cost of gasoline and fuel oil being offset slightly by increases in costs for gas and electricity. Food prices rose +0.4% for their largest monthly increase since May 2014, and were up +1.6% for the year. Core CPI, which excludes energy and food, was up +0.2% for the month, and remained unchanged at 2.2% for the year. Yearly CPI prices increased for shelter (+3.2%), transportation services (+2.8%), medical care (+2.6%), and used vehicles (+1.4%), and dropped for medical care commodities (-0.5%), new vehicles (-0.3%), and apparel (-0.1%).
Tuesday January 15 – Producer Price Index – Final Demand (PPI-FD)
Friday January 18 – Industrial Production