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While the economy as a whole continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace, the Institute for Supply Management’s August Manufacturing Index  dropped 2.1 points to 49.1 for its lowest reading since January 2016, indicating the end to a 35 month period of manufacturing expansion. Only the supplier deliveries subindex at 51.4 indicated expansion, while all the other subindexes had readings under 50, indicating contraction. New orders, production and employment reversed trends from growth to contraction, drops in customer inventories and new export orders became more severe, and prices contracted for the third consecutive month indicating lower demand. The report noted that participants indicated a “notable decrease in business confidence”, with sentiment dropping to its lowest level in 2019 and trade remaining a significant concern.
In July, exports rose +$1.2 billion to $207.4 billion and imports dropped -$0.4 billion to $261.4 billion, lowering the trade deficit  -2.7% to $54.0 billion. Goods exports increased for pharmaceutical preparations (+$1.2 billion), capital goods (+$0.8 billion), and automobiles (+$0.6 billion), but decreased for crude oil (-$0.5 billion). Goods imports dropped -$0.6 billion largely due to a -$1.4 billion drop in computer imports, which was offset by a +$1.0 billion increase in petroleum products. Since the beginning of the year, the deficit has increased $28.2 billion (+8.2%) compared to 2018, with exports decreasing by -$3.4 billion (-0.2%), and imports increasing +$24.9 billion (+1.4%). For Q2, the largest trade deficits were with China ($80.6 billion), the European Union ($35.1 billion), and Mexico ($26.1 billion), and the largest surpluses were with South and Central America ($20.4 billion), Hong Kong ($8.1 billion), and Brazil ($7.5 billion).
There were 96,000 private sector jobs created in August, but the federal government hired 25,000 temporary census workers which helped boost the number of new jobs to 130,000, and the unemployment rate  remained at 3.7% for the third consecutive month. The number of jobs created in June and July were revised downward by -15,000 and -5,000 respectively, bringing the average over the last 3 months to 156,000. Private sector jobs were created in health care (+24,000), professional services (+37,000), and financial activities (+15,000), but dropped for retail (-11,000) and mining (-5,000). There were 3,000 manufacturing jobs created in August, and the number of new manufacturing jobs for July was revised downward from 16,000 to 4,000. Hourly earnings increased by $0.11 /hour to $28.11, and were up +3.2% for the year, with production and non-supervisory employees pay up $0.11 to $23.59/hour. The more comprehensive U-6 unemployment rate, which includes discouraged and underemployed workers, rose +0.2% to 7.2%, but remained lower than the 7.4% rate in August 2018.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Wednesday September 11 – Producer Price Index – Final Demand (PPI-FD)
Friday September 13 – Retail Sales
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