All things considered, the American economy is looking healthier than it has since the beginning of the Great Recession. While the stock market has shown increased volatility and some economists are predicting a market correction, key economic indicators show economic activity is increasing, manufacturing is picking up steam, confidence is rising and, at long last, the jobs situation is showing significant improvement.
Federal Reserve said industrial production increased 0.7 percent in March after rising 1.2 percent in February. According to the report, “February was higher than previously reported primarily because of stronger gains for durable goods manufacturing and for mining.” Breaking it down, manufacturing rose 0.5 percent, utilities increased 1.0 percent and mining output rose 1.5 percent.
This puts total industrial production 3.8 percent above the level from last year, and is a solid sign for the current economy and its future prospects due to the spinoff effects of manufacturing.
The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book is published eight times a year and provides a detailed look at current economic conditions based on anecdotal information. In the latest edition, released on April 7th, economic activity appeared to increase in most regions of the United States.
Areas that saw modest to moderate growth include Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco. Chicago’s economic growth also picked up, and data from New York and Philadelphia indicated economic activity in both cities rebounded after weather-related slowdowns. Economic activity declined in the districts of both Cleveland and St. Louis.
From the report: “Manufacturing improved in most Districts. Several Districts reported that the impact of winter weather was less severe than earlier this year. Chicago and Minneapolis saw moderate growth, while manufacturing grew at a steady pace in New York, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Dallas. San Francisco noted that manufacturing appeared to gain some momentum.”
After last week’s knockout, very positive unemployment claims figures, this week’s seasonally adjusted initial claims stayed low at 304,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This puts the 4-week moving average at 312,000, a weekly decrease of 4,750.
With unemployment claims at such a low level —last seen since early 2007 — it’s likely we will see greater economic expansion and an improvement in job creation and wage growth in the coming months.