News & Events

Economic Advisor: January 03, 2018
January 3, 2018


Hello and Happy New Year from Economic Advisor! Last week saw a light calendar of economic news releases due to most reporting agencies being closed for the holidays, but we did see layoffs hold steady, while consumer confidence took a slight dip.

Initial Jobless Claims

First-time claims for unemployment benefits filed by the newly unemployed during the week ending December 23, held steady at 245,000 claims, unchanged from the previous week’s total of 245,000, according to last week’s report from the Employment and Training Administration. That said, this was off from forecasts of 239,000 jobless claims.

The four-week moving average, which is considered a more stable measure of jobless claims, notched up to 237,750, a slight increase of 1,750 claims from the preceding week’s average of 236,000 claims.

This latest report marked the 147th straight week that initial claims have come in below the 300,000-claim level, which economists consider an indicator of a growing job market. The Administration added that it continues to experience hurricane-related reporting difficulties in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence ticked down in December, with The Conference Board reporting last week that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped 122.1 for the month, down from November’s score of 128.6.

The Present Situation Index, which describes consumers’ view of their current economic circumstances, grew from 154.9 to 156.6, but the Expectations Index, which describes their short-term economic outlook, dropped from 111.0 last month to 99.1 for the month.

“Consumer confidence retreated in December after reaching a 17-year high in November,” The Conference Board’s Director of Economic Indicators Lynn Franco said in a public statement. “The decline in confidence was fueled by a somewhat less optimistic outlook for business and job prospects in the coming months. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, however, improved moderately. Despite the decline in confidence, consumers’ expectations remain at historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018.”

Looking at the responses in more detail, the portion of consumers responding that business conditions were “good” saw a marginal gain from 35 percent to 35.2 percent, while those saying business conditions were “bad” slightly dropped, from 12.3 percent to 12.1 percent. Consumers stating that jobs were “plentiful” fell from 37.5 percent to 35.7 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” also dropped from 16.8 percent to 15.2 percent.

This week, we can expect:

  • Wednesday — Construction spending for November from the Census Bureau; car and truck sales for December from the auto manufacturers.
  • Thursday — Initial jobless claims for last week from the Employment and Training Administration.
  • Friday — Factory orders and the trade deficit for November from the Census Bureau; unemployment rate, payrolls, hourly earnings and average workweek for December from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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