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There were +198,000 more private job openings on the last day of December compared to the last day of November, pushing total job openings to a record high of 7.3 million. The largest job opening increases were for construction (+88,000), accommodation and food services (+84,000), and health care/social assistance (+79,000), and job openings fell the most in manufacturing (-37,000), federal government (-32.000), and real estate (-31,000). There was little change in the number of hires (5.9 million), quits (3.5 million), and layoffs (1.7 million), although the number of “other separations”, which include retirement, death, disability, or transfers to other locations for the same job, increased by +50,000. Over the 12 months ending in December, there were 68.5 million hires and 65.9 million separations leading to a net employment gain of 2.6 million.
Retail sales, seasonally adjusted but not adjusted for price changes, fell -1.2% in December after a downwardly revised +0.1% gain in November, with losses in all sectors other than motor vehicles (+1.0%) and building supplies (+0.3%). A drop in the price of gasoline pushed down gas station sales by -5.1%, and sales excluding the losses from gasoline and the increases from motor vehicles were down -1.4% for the month. The steepest drops in sales other than gasoline were for sporting goods/hobby stores (-4.9%), miscellaneous stores (NAICS code 453, -4.1%), nonstore (e.g. online) retailers (-3.9%), and department stores (-3.3%). Compared to December 2017 sales were up +2.3%, and total sales for all of 2018 were up +5.0% compared to total sales for 2017.
Industrial production fell -0.6% in January after a downwardly revised +0.1% gain for December. The overall drop was primarily due to a -0.9% drop in manufacturing in January after a +0.8% gain the previous month, which in turn rested on swings in vehicle production (-8.8% in January, +4.3% in December), and business equipment (-1.5% in January, +0.9% in December). Natural gas production was up +6.0% in January after a -19.0% drop in December, helping to push utilities production up +0.4% in January. On a yearly basis, mining production increased the most at +15.3%, followed by manufacturing at +2.9%, while utilities dropped -5.6%. Capacity for mining grew +6.2% over the year, and was 94.8% utilized (vs 87.1% long term average), followed by +2.0% growth for utilities, that was +75.4% utilized (vs 85.2% long term average), and 1.4% growth for manufacturing capacity, which was 75.8% utilized (vs 78.3% long term average).
Thursday February 21 – Durable Goods Orders
Thursday February 21 – Existing Home Sales