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Oil Prices And The Trade Deficit

There are several reasons why today's blog should be of great interest. Last year, the petroleum-related trade deficit totaled $265 billion and accounted for 42 percent of our total deficit in goods. To put this in more personal terms, $265 billion averages to about $850 for every woman, man and child in the U.S. In 2008, when oil prices hit their all-time high, the petroleum-related deficit totaled $386 billion (over $1,260 for each person). That's a lot of money flowing out of the country for a commodity with a volatile price over which we have little control.

Employment Growth Rebounds Strongly in February

A very positive report overall. Here are four main points about today's release:

Youth Labor Force Participation And School Enrollment

Friday's jobs report will tell us how many new jobs were added to payrolls in February as well as the unemployment rate. Analysts will also closely watch for changes in the labor force participation rate, which measures the share of the population that is working or looking for work.

Today's blog post focuses on youths (age 16-24) in the labor force. Notably, we find that, facing a tough job market, many youth have increasingly invested in developing their skills and education, which will make them more productive and help them earn more when they do re-enter the labor market.

New Tax Cuts Boost Personal Income

Today's release covers personal income and consumer spending for the month of January.  The big news is on the income side where personal income increased 1.0 percent in January -- the largest increase since May 2009 and substantially higher than private expectations of 0.4 percent.  Why did income go up so much?  The bottom line is that income was substantially boosted by the tax cuts the President signed in December.  More specifically, the jump in income in January from December wa

Manufacturing Expansion, Rising Business Investment Show Demand for Durable Goods Likely to Grow in 2011

The bottom line is that January's data on durable goods orders and shipments wasn't as strong as expected, but we should keep in mind two facts. First off, last year these series did pretty well. Second, as I'll discuss below, several fundamental factors should boost the demand for durable goods through 2011, so let's make sure not to place too much emphasis on a single month's data point.

Consumer Spending Strength Continues... And a Look at Changing Shopping Habits

The bottom line is that consumer spending gathered steam late last year, and according to today's Retail Sales data release, consumer spending is on track to post a moderately strong gain in Q1, a trend consistent with other indicators of consumer spending. 1

Foreign Trade: Year in Review - Big Export Growth in 2010

Today's release fills out the trade picture for 2010, and what a year it was from the foreign trade perspective: economic growth around the world was mixed (as the IMF recently put it, "Global Recovery Advances but Remains Uneven"), several commodity prices shot up, and some foreign exchange rates swung around (hello euro). 

January Employment Report: Getting Better, Not Good Enough Yet

Today's jobs report has some good news, but we continue to look for better news, with the bottom line being that the unemployment rate fell again and by a lot but payrolls didn't increase as much as we would have liked. I'm not trying to wear rose-colored glasses here, but most of the other recent economic indicators have been much more positive than the stubborn payroll numbers would suggest, and economists and commentators have been talking about what the numbers all mean and looking for analogs. 

Will Economic Forecasters Become More Optimistic About the Labor Market?

What do forecasters say about how the economy will fare in 2011? This is a difficult question to answer as there are lots of changing forecasts of the U.S. economy. What is true is that in recent months, most forecasters have become increasingly optimistic about the economic outlook for the U.S. economy.

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