Policy Points

21.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Dec. 21

Around the Dial – Dec. 21

Economic policy reports, blog postings, and media stories of interest:

21.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on November Producer Prices

November Producer Prices

The seasonally-adjusted prices received by producers of finished goods rose by 1.8 percent in November, according to data recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That same month, the prices received by sellers of intermediate goods rose by 1.4 percent, and the prices received by sellers of crude goods advanced by 5.7 percent.

At each stage of the production process, price increases were attributable to rises in food and energy prices, primarily energy prices. When energy and food prices are excluded, producer prices for finished goods actually rose by 0.5 percent in November. Absent energy and food costs, producer prices rose slightly for intermediate goods and fell slightly for crude ones.

Over the past year, producer prices have risen. Unadjusted prices for finished goods have grown by 2.4 percent, and producer prices for intermediate and crude goods have risen by 1.4 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

The new data offer two insights into the state of the American economy. First, the findings suggest that demand for good and services remains weak, though not quite as weak as in recent months.  Second, the report indicates that inflation is not currently a threat to the larger economy.

18.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Weekend Wonk Out

Weekend Wonk Out

A round-up of policy reports from the week ending on 12/18:

18.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on November Jobs Report: North Carolina

November Jobs Report: North Carolina

The November jobs report released today by the Employment Security Commission offers little proof that a labor market recovery is underway.

Last month, North Carolina employers eliminated 8,800 more positions than they added with private-sector employers responsible for almost all of the losses (-8,500 positions). Although the state’s labor market has alternated between periods of slight payroll gains and modest losses over the last four months, the fundamental reality is that North Carolina’s labor market is stuck in place.

In November, North Carolina employers shed 8,800 more positions than they added. The public sector lost, on net, 300 positions, and the private sector cut, on net, 8,500 positions. Among private industries, leisure and hospitality services eliminated the most positions (-4,800), followed by manufacturing (-3,900) and trade, transportation and warehousing (-1,000). Education and health services posted the largest numerical gain (+1,900), followed by construction (+800). Additionally, a downward revision to the October report led to the net loss of another 3,100 positions.

The consequences of widespread joblessness are reflected in November’s household data. Last month, the labor force grew slightly due to new entrants and the return of some discouraged workers. Nevertheless, the share of the population participating in the labor force held steady. Additionally, North Carolina saw the unemployment rate (10.8 percent) and number of unemployed individuals (487,631) remain fairly constant between October and November.

Click here to read South by North Strategies’ full analysis of the latest employment report.

18.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on October Balance of Trade

October Balance of Trade

In October, the United States imported more goods and services from abroad than it exported, according to the most recent report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Compared to the revised September data, the October trade deficit was lower and the levels of of both imports and exports were higher

trade1The graph (left) shows the changes in American imports and exports that have occurred since the start of the recession in December 2007.

The recession has reduced American demand for foreign goods and services and foreign demand for American goods and services (though the fall in the dollar’s value likely is boosting American exports).

Compared to a year ago (seasonally adjusted), U.S. imports were 18.8 percent lower while exports were 8.6 percent lower. In recent months, both imports and exports have been trending upwards.

The rapid decline in imports has helped to reduce the trade gap. Last month, the  U.S. imported $32.9 billion more than it exported trade3. When imports of petroleum products are excluded, the trade gap was $13.3 billion.

Compared to one year ago (seasonally adjusted), the non-petroleum trade deficit is 44 percent lower and the overall trade deficit is 44.5 percent lower.