Posted by Bruce W. Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015


Factories are producing more. Construction is growing. Americans are buying more cars. The holiday shopping season is off to a strong start. Normally, all that would suggest a bright outlook for the economy. However, the problem continues to be that the economy isn‟t growing fast enough to require employers to hire more people.

The unemployment rate remains high and the European debt crisis continues to pose a significant risk to the world economy. While retail sales got off to a very fast start after Thanksgiving, retail sales have now slowed to levels more consistent with last year. November retail sales are up 3.1% at 21 major retailers compared with November a year ago. However, new car sales were up sharply in November by 14%. Consumers and businesses are finding that they can no longer put off replacing their vehicles, which are now an average of almost 11 years old, a record. Chrysler sales were up 44.5%, Ford up 13.3%, General Motors 6.9%, Hyundai 21.8%, Nissan 19.4%, and Toyota 6.7%. Honda sales declined 6.4%. Pickup truck sales had the strongest sales increase up 21.7%. Smaller cars, and more fuel efficient models, also had a good month up 14.5%. November's unemployment rate declined to 8.6% from 9.0% in October, but most of the decrease was due to a larger proportion of the population giving up a job search.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 120,000 in November with private companies hiring 140,000 and public sector jobs shrinking by 20,000. October's payroll figures were revised upwards to a gain of 100,000 (instead of the previously reported 80,000) and September was revised to 210,000 new jobs (instead of the 158,000 previously reported).

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