Economy

Economic Data Roundup (03/31/2016)

3/31/16 12:00 PM

iStock_000009946822_SmallThere were two important reports on the U.S. economy released this morning. First, data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed that the number of announced job cuts in America fell by 21.7 percent to 48,207 in March. This was the second monthly pullback in a row but due to the spike in January, announced layoffs still totaled 184,920 in the first quarter of 2016, up 31.8 percent compared to Q1 2015. Planned job cuts in the first quarter also increased by 75.9 percent compared to Q4 2015 but an uptick is not uncommon following the holiday shopping season. More importantly, 27.1 percent (50,053) of all the announced layoffs in Q1 were directly attributed to falling oil prices but John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, cautioned that “It is not just the energy sector that is seeing heavier job cuts. Layoff announcement have increased significantly in the retail sector and computer sector, as well. While it may be too early to sound the alarm bells, the upward trend outside of the energy sector is somewhat worrisome.”

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Elsewhere, the Chicago purchasing managers’ index (PMI) from Market News International (MNI), a measure of general business activity that is often viewed as an indicator for the overall U.S. economy, rebounded to 53.6 this month, better than the consensus forecast. Under the hood, the bounce back in the headline index was driven largely by improvements in production and employment, with the latter climbing to the highest level in roughly a year. Surveyed business managers were generally optimistic that sales would increase over the next quarter, and MNI’s chief economist Philip Uglow added that “looking through some of the recent volatility, the data are consistent with steady, not spectacular, economic growth in the US.”

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Sources: Econoday, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, ZH, MNI

Post author: Charles Couch