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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?

Economic Indicator - Retail Sales: Peeps, Gas and Consumer Spending

When it comes to tracking the economy, consumer spending is a biggie, and retail sales has a lot to say about how consumer spending is evolving. Today's retail sales release suggests that consumer spending continues to rise (there are some good reasons for that), and these increases are split between higher spending on gas and spending on a bunch of other stuff. Overall, today's report will be welcomed as good news, as the April numbers came in close to expectations and the March estimates were revised significantly upward.

U.S. International Trade: Exports vs. Imports, Oil and Quarterly Data

Today's release fills out the first quarter data on U.S. international trade, so let's focus on the first quarter data compared to the last quarter of 2010. What we said last month holds especially true now: never put too much focus on a single month's trade numbers, as the monthly wiggles can be largely influenced by a wide set of idiosyncratic factors.

ESA releases report on "U.S. Trade in Private Services"

Today the Commerce Department and ESA released a brief report on "U.S. Trade in Private Services." The report shows that the United States has consistently run a record services trade surplus that is driving overall exports growth and topped half a trillion dollars in 2010.

Grocers and Warehouse Stores Compete with Gas Stations for our Fuel (and Junk Food) Dollars

We've talked recently about how the price of oil impacts U.S. trade and the average American's pocketbook, but we'll take a different angle here to look at how the price of oil impacts retail sales in anticipation of the April advance retail sales figures to be released tomorrow, Thursday, May 12.

Rising fuel costs are an immediate drain on our wallets, but it also means that grocery stores and warehouse clubs can take advantage of our taste for fuel and our desire to save a few cents per gallon to get us in the door.

Our Petroleum Trade Deficit: Large and Growing

March data on U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services will be released tomorrow, Wed., May 11. One thing to keep in mind when looking at the March international trade figures is the role petroleum plays in month-to-month (as well as quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year) changes in the U.S. trade deficit.

April Job Numbers Soar High Above Private-Sector Expectations

Nonfarm businesses boosted payrolls by 244,000 jobs in April, significantly exceeding consensus private-sector expectations of 185,000 jobs. The growth came as private-sector firms added 268,000 jobs, the strongest one-month gain in half a decade. Indeed, private-sector employment is rising this year at a strong 2.4-percent annual rate, putting 2011's growth pace on track to be the fastest since 1999.

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