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The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Survey for April found that 57% of their respondents were hiring or trying to hire, but 50% were unable to find qualified applicants. A lack of qualified workers was cited as their Single Most Important Business Problem by 22% of NFIB respondents, with especially large numbers of unfilled jobs in construction and manufacturing. The NFIB findings corresponded to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, which found 6.55 million job openings in March and 5.425 million hires, leaving a gap of 1.125 million unfilled jobs. The largest increases in job openings were for professional and business services (+112,000), construction (+68,000), and transportation/warehousing/utilities (+37,000), while there were drops in job openings for manufacturing (-23,000) and finance (-10,000).
April’s wholesale prices were up less than expected at +0.1% for services and unchanged for goods, with overall prices up +0.1%, and core prices, which exclude food and energy, up +0.2%. The yearly rate of wholesale inflation slowed from +3.0% to +2.6% for overall prices and from +2.7% to +2.3% for core prices. Service price increases were led by final demand trade services (+0.2%), which was largely based on a +0.9% increase in the price index for machinery, equipment, parts and supplies wholesale trade, and also included a +0.6% hike in transportation and warehousing services. For goods a -1.1% drop in food prices, with notable prices drops for eggs (-22.9%) and fresh vegetables (-17.8%), was offset by a +0.1% rise in energy prices and a +0.3% rise in the core prices.
Consumer prices were also up less than expected in April, with a +0.2% overall increase and a +0.1% increase in core prices. On a yearly basis overall prices rose +2.5% vs +2.4% for March, as yearly costs increased +1.4% for food, +7.9% for energy, and 2.1% for core prices. In energy prices, gasoline was up +0.3% after a -4.9% decline in March, while electricity dropped -0.6% and natural gas dropped -0.4%. In the food category, meat prices were up +0.5%, with a -0.7% drop in pork prices helping to offset a +1.3% gain in beef and veal prices and a +7.1% increase in egg prices. Increases in core prices included shelter (+0.3%), personal care (+0.7%), and household furnishings (+0.5%), and decreases included used cars and trucks (-1.6%, largest decrease since March 2009), new vehicles (-0.5%), airline fares (-2.7%), and the first monthly decline in motor vehicle insurance (-0.2%) in the past 12 months.
Tuesday May 15 – Retail Sales
Wednesday May 16 – Industrial Production