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Consumer confidence fell -12.6 points to 120.0 in a survey from the Conference Board with a cutoff data of 3/19. Consumers’ assessments of the present situation dipped slightly from 169.3 to 167.7, but the expectation index for the short term outlook plummeted from 108.1 to 88.2. Over the next six months, more consumers expected business conditions to worsen, income to decrease, and jobs to be less available. The Conference Board noted that “March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction – rather than a temporary shock – and further declines are sure to follow.”
The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) March Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell from 50.1% in February to 49.1%. New orders had already been in contraction at 49.8%, and dropped a further 7.6% to 42.2%, and employment fell to 43.8% (-3.1%). Respondents were negative on the near term outlook, citing the oil price war and impact of COVID-19, although comments from the Food, Beverage and Tobacco products industry noted a record number of orders. The ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Index dropped -4.8% to 52.5%, with business activity down -9.8% to 48%, and its first contraction since July 2009, and employment down -8.6% to 47%. Respondents in the construction and mining industries noted they were able to work around shutdowns, while other sectors such as education and retail were not, and health care and public administration were significantly impacted by shortages and price increases for personal protective equipment.
In a report compiled in the first half of March, there were 701,000 jobs lost and the unemployment rate rose to by +0.9% to 4.4%. The more comprehensive U-6 unemployment rate, which includes marginal and discouraged workers, was up +1.7% to 8.7%. About two-thirds of the job losses were in leisure and hospitality (-495,000), with additional losses in health care (-61,000), temporary help services (-50,000), retail trade (-46,000), and construction (-29,000). The average workweek was down -0.2 hours to 34.2 hours, with leisure and hospitality workers seeing a steeper -1.4 hour decline. Average hourly earnings were up +3.1% for the year, gaining $0.11/hour to $28.62 overall, and $0.10/hour to $24.07 for production/nonsupervisory employees.
Tuesday April 7 – Job Openings
Wednesday April 8 – FOMC Minutes
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