Economic News in Review Greenville SC
Here is last week’s Economic News in Review Greenville SC.
Retail sales were up, but slightly off from expectations, while consumer credit and lay-offs succumbed to seasonal volatility, posting their biggest gain in five months.
Retail sales for November grew 0.2 percent to hit $448.1 billion, according to last week’s report from the Census Bureau. This was slightly off from market expectations of a 0.3 percent gain, but when compared annually, the month’s retail receipts were 1.4 percent higher than November 2014’s tally.
Key drivers for November’s growth were clothing, grocery stores, sporting goods and hobby retailers, which all saw a 0.8 percent gain; food service and drinking establishments, which grew 0.7 percent; and electronics stores, which were up 0.6 percent. Poor performers included gas stations, which saw a 0.8 percent sales drop; and auto and parts dealers, which fell 0.4 percent, with car dealers in particular seeing a 0.6 percent loss.
“Consumers aren’t being overly lavish in their spending, but they’re still spending,” James Rhee, chief executive of women’s clothing store Ashley Stewart Inc. told the Wall Street Journal. “They are concentrating their spending with fewer retailers and being more exacting in their demand for differentiated product and experiences.”
In related news, consumer credit was up, with borrowing for October growing 5.5 percent to a total of $3.51 trillion. While up on a monthly basis, the pace for consumer credit growth still slowed a bit from September’s 9.9 percent growth.
The big driver for the monthly gain was non-revolving debt, such as car and student loans, growing 7.4 percent to hit $2.58 trillion for the month. Meanwhile, revolving debt, such as credit cards, only grew 0.2 percent, to hit $923.6 billion.
The numbers indicate that Americans are still being careful about how they use their credit cards, and are focusing their debt on high-ticket expenses. With consumer spending driving 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, economists are looking for Americans to more heavily use their credit cards at the cash register.
Initial Jobless Claims
After weeks of enjoying lows not seen since the 1970s, lay-offs hit their highest point in five months. First time claims for unemployment benefits filed by the recently laid off during the week ending December 5 hit 282,000, a substantial gain of 13,000 claims over the preceding week’s total of 269,000, the Employment and Training Administration reported last week.
While the weekly figure’s gain was considerable, the four-week moving average — considered a more stable measure of lay-offs — notched up to 270,750 claims, a comparatively modest increase of just 1,500 claims over the prior week’s average of 269,250.
Most analysts attributed the large gain to the time of year, as claims between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve see large swings.
“As we approach the end of the year, jobless claims have a tendency to be more volatile due to seasonal adjustment issues around the holidays,” RDQ Economics Chief Economist John Ryding told Reuters. “The message remains that the pace of layoffs is very low.”
Economic News in Review Greenville SC
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