Policy Points

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.

17.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Dec. 17

Around the Dial – Dec. 17

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

17.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 11/28

Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 11/28

For the benefit week ending on November 28th, 32,368 North Carolinians filed initial claims for unemployment insurance, and 205,541 individuals applied for continuing insurance benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were many more initial and continuing claims;  however, this is partly due to the fact that the previous filing week contained just three workdays owing to the Thanksgiving holiday. These figures come from data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 21,540 initial claims were filed over the last four weeks, along with an average of 187,405 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, both initial and continuing claims were higher.
graph

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 25,462 and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 141,601.

The graph (right) shows the changes in unemployment insurance claims (as a share of covered employment) in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.

Although new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this business cycle, the claims levels remain elevated and point to a labor market that remains extremely weak. Especially troubling is the high level of continuing claims, which suggests that unemployed individuals are finding it extremely difficult to find new positions.

17.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on October Personal Spending

October Personal Spending

From the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ most recent analysis of personal income and spending

Personal income increased $30.1 billion, or 0.2 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $45.7 billion, or 0.4 percent, in October, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $68.3 billion, or 0.7 percent. In September, personal income increased $20.7 billion, or 0.2 percent, DPI increased $21.3 billion, or 0.2 percent, and PCE decreased $60.3 billion, or 0.6 percent, based on revised estimates.

Real disposable income increased 0.2 percent in October, compared with an increase of 0.1 percent in September. Real PCE increased 0.4 percent, in contrast to a decrease of 0.7 percent.

16.12.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Dec. 16

Around the Dial – Dec. 16

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