News & Events

Economic Advisor: January 10, 2018
January 10, 2018


Construction spending hit a new high, while unemployment was unchanged, and layoffs grew.

Construction Spending

Construction spending during November rose 0.8 percent to hit an annual rate of $1.257 trillion, the Census Bureau reported last week. This marked the fourth straight monthly gain, and an all-time monthly high.

November’s performance outpaced market expectations of just a 0.5 percent gain, and when compared to last year, construction spending for the month was 2.4 percent higher than November 2016’s rate of $1.227 trillion.

Spending on private construction grew one percent over October to hit an annual rate of $964.3 billion for November. Spending on residential construction similarly grew one percent to reach an annual rate of $530.8 billion in November.

The big driver for residential construction spending’s growth was single-family homes, which posted a 1.9 percent increase to a rate of $274 billion. Meanwhile, spending on building multi-family residences dropped 1.3 percent to $60.4 billion.


The economy added 148,000 jobs in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. Key job growth sectors included health care, construction, and manufacturing.

This kept the unemployment hovering at 4.1 percent for the third month with the population of unemployed Americans at 6.6 million, again, essentially unchanged from the previous month. Over the year, the unemployment rate has decreased by 0.6 percent and the unemployed population has been down by 926,000 people.

Average hourly earnings for all non-farm employees increased by 9 cents in December to $26.63. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have grown by 65 cents (2.5 percent). Average hourly earnings for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees notched up seven cents to $22.30 in December.

Initial Jobless Claims

First-time claims for unemployment benefits filed by the newly unemployed during the week ending December 30, grew to 250,000, an increase of 3,000 claims from the prior week’s total of 247,000, according to last week’s report from the Employment and Training Administration. This was off from forecasts of 240,000 jobless claims.

The four-week moving average, which is considered a more stable measure of jobless claims, notched up to 241,750, a gain of 3,500 claims from the preceding week’s average of 238,250 claims.

This latest report marked the 185th 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 the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

This week, we can expect:

  • Monday — Consumer credit for November from the Federal Reserve.
  • Wednesday — Import prices for December from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; wholesale inventories for November from the Census Bureau.
  • Thursday — Initial jobless claims for last week from the Employment and Training Administration; Producer Price Index for December from the Bureau of Economic Analysis; December federal budget from the Treasury Department.
  • Friday — Consumer Price Index for December from the Bureau of Economic Analysis; retail sales for December and business inventories for November from the Census Bureau.

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