Last updateMon, 25 Mar 2019 8pm


Small Business Demand for Workers Remains a Constraint

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index remained basically unchanged in December, drifting down 0.4 points to 104.4. Unfilled jobs and the lack of qualified applicants continue to be a primary driver, with job openings setting a record high and job creation plans strengthening. Reports of higher worker compensation remained near record levels and inventory investment plans surged. Expected real sales growth and expected business conditions in the next six months, however, accounted for the modest decline in the Index

Mid-America Manufacturing Expands Despite Trade Worries

The December Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, an economic indicator for the nine-state region stretching from Minnesota to Arkansas, rose for the first time since August, pointing to positive economic growth for the next three to six months. Supply managers report negative effects from ongoing tariffs.

The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, climbed to 55.2 from November’s 54.1. This is the 25th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0. 

ISM: Manufacturing at Lowest Level in More Than 2 Years

The December PMI registered 54.1%, a decrease of 5.2% from the November reading of 59.3%. Economic activity in the manufacturing sector still expanded in December, and the overall economy grew for the 116th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.

“Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength, but at much lower levels,” said ISM’s Timothy Fiore. 

U.S. Added 312,000 Jobs in December

Employment increased by 312,000 in December, and the unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. Job gains occurred in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December. Most of the gain occurred in the durable goods component (+19,000), with job growth in fabricated metal products (+7,000) and in computer and electronic products (+4,000). Employment in the nondurable goods component also increased over the month (+13,000). Manufacturing employment increased by 284,000 over the year, with about three-fourths of the gain in durable goods industries. Manufacturing had added 207,000 jobs in 2017. 

Consumer Confidence Declined in December

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in December, following a modest decline in November. The Index now stands at 128.1, down from 136.4 in November.

“Consumer Confidence decreased in December, following a moderate decline in November,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Expectations regarding job prospects and business conditions weakened, but still suggest that the economy will continue expanding at a solid pace in the short-term. While consumers are ending 2018 on a strong note, back-to-back declines in Expectations are reflective of an increasing concern that the pace of economic growth will begin moderating in the first half of 2019.” 

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