Last updateFri, 23 Jun 2017 4pm


Unemployment Rate Falls to 10-Year Low

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 in April, and the unemployment rate fell to a 10-year low of 4.4%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Economists were expecting an increase in the range of 185,000. Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, financial activities and mining. Employment in manufacturing was little changed.

Employment in mining rose by 9,000 in April, with most of the increase in support activities for mining (+7,000). Since a recent low in October 2016, mining has added 44,000 jobs, with three-fourths of the gain in support activities for mining. 

ISM: Manufacturing Grew for Eighth Straight Month

According to the April 2017 Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, manufacturing expanded in April as the PMI registered 54.8%, a decrease of 2.4% from the March reading of 57.2%, indicating growth in manufacturing for the eighth consecutive month.

“While the ISM’s April measures of new orders and factory employment cooled from a month earlier, the report showed overseas markets are doing better. The group’s index of export orders climbed in April to the highest level since November 2013. What’s more, a gauge of customer inventories dropped to the lowest level since July 2015, a sign bookings and production will remain strong,” Bloomberg reports

Business Investment Improved Over Last Three Quarters

“Business investment -- which was in recession from the fourth quarter of 2015 through the second quarter of 2016 -- has improved significantly over the past three quarters,” Bloomberg reports. “Equipment purchases rose by 9.1% -- the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2015. This confirms what the ISM Manufacturing Index and the MHI Business Activity Index surveys have been showing: Business are betting on more growth, and they are making investments to prove it.” 

U.S. Economy Grew 0.7% in the First Quarter of 2017

Real GDP in the U.S. fell short of expectations, increasing at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first quarter of 2017; this according to the advance estimate just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The 0.7% figure, down from 2.1% in the fourth quarter and 3.5% in the second half of 2016, and is the slowest rate of growth in three years. Many economists expect more robust growth in the upcoming second quarter. 

Survey Shows Small Business Confidence Increasing

The second annual Allstate/ Small Business Barometer finds increasing optimism and innovation among small business owners, despite the rising cost of doing business. Nine in 10 local entrepreneurs say the benefits of owning a business outweigh the challenges. This year’s Barometer found that, in addition to being more optimistic compared to the first year’s report, in 2017 small business owners are also experiencing increasing sales, revenue and hiring.

The 2017 Allstate/ Small Business Barometer produced an overall score of 58 for the country’s small business sector, which rates as “solid” on the Barometer’s 0-100 scale. The score is a slight decrease from 2016’s release (61), with the two most significant changes coming in optimism and commodities – up 13 and down 37 points respectively, compared to last year’s Barometer. 

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