MetroIntelligence Economic Update by P. DUFFY
Initial unemployment claims slip .04 percent to 787,000
In the week ending January 2, initial claims were 787,000, a decrease of 3,000, or .04 percent, from the previous week’s revised level. Continuing claims were 5,072,000, a decrease of 126,000, or 2.4 percent, from the previous week’s revised level. The total number of continued weeks claimed for benefits in all programs for the week ending December 19 was 19,176,857, a decrease of 419,228, or 2.1 percent, from the previous week.
December service sector index rises 1.3 points to 57.2, seventh straight month of expansion
The Services PMI™ registered 57.2 percent in December, 1.3 percentage points higher than the November reading of 55.9 percent. This reading represents a seventh straight month of growth for the services sector, which has expanded for all but two of the last 131 months. Respondents’ comments are mixed about business conditions and the economy. Various local- and state-level COVID-19 shutdowns continue to negatively impact companies and industries. Applicable human resources, production capacity and logistics have been more constrained than during the previous month.
Owning a home more affordable than renting in 63 percent of 915 counties
Owning a median-priced three-bedroom home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 572, or 63 percent of the 915 U.S. counties analyzed for the report. That has happened even though median home prices have increased more than average rents over the past year in 83 percent of those counties and have risen more than wages in almost two-thirds of the nation.
December Federal Reserve meeting minutes reveal ongoing uncertainty in near term
In the U.S. economic projection prepared by the staff for the December FOMC meeting, real GDP growth was revised up and the unemployment rate revised down for the fourth quarter relative to the November meeting forecast. These revisions reflected incoming data that were, on balance, better than expected, although the recent resurgence of the pandemic and increased social-distancing restrictions in many states and localities were expected to weigh on economic activity in the coming months.