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The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey  (JOLTS) report showed a record 6.16 million job openings on the last day of June, up +461,000 from May, with June hires (5.4 million) and separations (5.2 million) mostly unchanged from May’s levels. Job openings increased the most for professional and business services (+179,000), health care and social assistance (+125,000), and construction (+62,000). However, a report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) on Small Business Optimism  noted that 87% of firms attempting to hire could not find qualified applicants, and difficulty in finding qualified workers was second to taxes as business’ single most important business problem.
In its largest drop since August 2016, July’s Producer Price Index  (PPI) measure of wholesale inflation dropped -0.1%, reversing June’s +0.1% gain, and bringing the Y/Y rate to +1.9%. Core PPI, which excludes food, energy and trade services, was flat in July after a +0.2% increase in June, dropping the yearly core PPI by -0.1% to +1.9%. Prices paid by producers dropped for energy (-0.3%), trade services (-0.2%), and goods (-0.1%), while prices for food were unchanged. A -5.8% drop in margins for chemicals and allied products made up about 60% of the services drop, and a -1.4% drop in the price of gasoline was a major factor in the drop in the price of goods.
The Consumer Price Index  (CPI) was up +0.1% for July, increasing the year over year CPI by +0.1% to +1.7%. A +0.2% increase in food costs balanced out a -0.1% decrease in energy costs, so that core CPI, which excludes the more volatile food and energy sectors, matched the full CPI’s +0.1% M/M, +1.7% Y/Y gains. Prices increased for medical care commodities (+1.0%), medical care services (+0.3%), apparel (+0.3%), and transportation (+0.2%), but CPI was held down by sharp declines in new vehicles (-0.5%) and used cars (-0.5%), along with drops in cell phone costs (-0.3%). Core CPI has been falling for the last 5 months and is currently at its lowest level since February 2015.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Tuesday August 15 – Retail Sales
Thursday August 17 – Industrial Production