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Did Sister Sledge mean “We are household” instead of “We are family”? Understanding Household Formation

When thinking about the housing sector, we can think about the short, medium, and longer term. In the short-term, we receive a wide variety of indicators, such as the data released today on housing starts and permits (both rose in May and the April data were revised upwards). In the medium-term (say the next year or so), a variety of factors will be at play, including the improving job market. In the longer-term, the key driver will be changes in the numbers of households.

ESA report on "Foreign Direct Investment in the United States"

Today the Commerce Department and ESA released a short report on "Foreign Direct Investment in the United States." Foreign company investment in U.S. businesses, known as foreign direct investment (FDI), has supported more than 5 million jobs over the past decade, jobs that pay, on average, up to 30% more than the average of all U.S. firms (Figure 1).

Retail Sales in May

See below for an update of yesterday's chart, updated with the latest retail sales data from Census.

Shifting Shopping

Mark Doms, Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce

Foreign Trade in April- Deficit Declines as Exports Rise, Oil Imports Plummet

Today's data release contained a bit of fresh air (in contrast to DC's unseasonably hot air – and that's not metaphorically speaking – we're talking code orange, 90+ degrees with comparable humidity, and iffy air quality); imports fell, despite an increase in oil prices. The amount of oil we imported dropped by an unusually large amount, and our imports from Japan dropped as well. On the other side, exports edged up, recording the second consecutive month of record exports following a surge last month. Subsequently, the trade deficit contracted, so April's report was overall pretty good.

Economic Indicator Preview: Foreign Trade- Exports, Oil and Natural Disasters

Among the slew of data that accompanies the U.S. Census Bureau's release of April export and import data on Thursday, three items deserve special attention.

Car or Truck? Why Gas Prices Help Drive Sales of Cars over Light Trucks

When auto companies report their sales figures tomorrow, we're likely to hear again how the sale of cars (especially gas sippers) is growing, while the sale of light trucks (especially gas guzzlers) is slumping (check out the New York Times story from Sunday "Detroit's Rebound Is Built on Smaller Cars"). Why? Since April, gas prices have continued to increase.

Economic Indicator - Personal Income: Putting Tax Cuts, Wages and Gas Prices into Perspective

Let's test your knowledge. Rank the following from largest to smallest for the average household during the first four months of the year:

  • How much take-home pay was boosted by the tax cuts passed late last year
  • How much more was spent on gasoline (and motor fuels more generally)
  • How much worker compensation increased, which was mostly a result of the strong job market so far this year

The correct answer is: C ($307), A ($199), and B ($116).

Economic Indicator: Q1 GDP and the Rise of Corporate Profits

The second release of GDP for the first quarter came out this morning, and I want to focus today on two interesting components of this release – first, today's look at corporate profits for the first time this quarter, and second, the revisions to the first (or "advance") Q1 GDP estimate released last month. Let's start with corporate profits. Why do we care about profits? Increased corporate profits can help the economy in a number of ways.

Economic Indicator Preview: Durable Goods, Heavy Metal and America's Export Boom

It is surprisingly hot and sticky in DC today, as summer seems to be making an early return to the nation's capital. And while that might make many Washingtonians cringe, when it comes to the economy, these descriptors are welcome news. A key dimension of America's economic recovery is also surprisingly hot with strength that is expected to stick – manufacturing. Ok, cheesiness aside, U.S.

Reasons to Break America's Addiction to Foreign Oil: A Play in Three Cool Charts

When oil prices go up, Americans pay … and we pay a lot (See Figure 1). We pay directly at the pump; we pay as businesses pass higher fuel costs on to their consumers (think airline fares); and, as a country, we pay foreign countries to support our fuel habit. Wouldn't it be far better if we could keep the hundreds of billions of dollars that we currently spend on foreign oil every year instead of shipping our hard-earned money overseas?

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