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Economists’ Forecast: Here We Grow Again

Wall Street Journal (05/14/15) Kathleen Madigan

Forecasters in the latest Wall Street Journal survey estimate the U.S. economy contracted at a 0.3% pace in the first three months of this year due to hits from winter weather and the West Coast port slowdown. However, the panel, on average, sees annualized economic growth of 2.8% in the current quarter ending June 30, supported by stronger wage growth and employment gains. In addition, they see the drag from weak trade and a strong dollar dissipating by the third and fourth quarters, delivering average economic growth at a 3.0% pace.

The survey of more than 60 economists showed a widespread expectation that consumers would begin spending again after several months of avoiding retail venues. The May survey was conducted before the U.S. Department of Commerce posted that retail sales were flat last month, but some economists played down those results.

U.S. Industrial Production Falls for Fifth Straight Month

Wall Street Journal (05/15/15) Kate Davidson

Industrial production declined for the fifth consecutive month in April, falling a seasonally adjusted 0.3% from March, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. Weak global demand, a stronger dollar, and lower oil prices may be restraining output. Capacity utilization, a measure of slack in the industrial sector, declined four-tenths of a percentage point to 78.2%, which is slightly below the long-run average recorded since 1972. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.1% decline in industrial production and a capacity utilization rate of 78.3%.

A reduction in industrial production is consistent with an economy that has been slowing this year. Consumer spending has declined and business investment, particularly in the energy sector, has fallen. Economists say economic output may have fallen by as much as 1.0% in the first quarter.

Empire State Manufacturing Survey Shows Slight Improvement

Federal Reserve Bank of New York (05/15/15)

Business conditions improved slightly for New York manufacturers, according to the 2015 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The general business conditions index advanced four points but, at 3.1, indicated that business conditions were only slightly better over the month. Thirty percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved, while 27% reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index, positive for the first time since February, rose 10 points to 3.9, indicating a small increase in orders. The shipments index was little changed at 14.9, suggesting that shipments continued to grow at a solid clip.

Labor market conditions pointed to a small increase in employment but a slight dip in the length of the average workweek. The index for number of employees fell four points to 5.2, while the average workweek index, though up two points, remained negative at -2.1.

The U.S. Economy Just Had Its Worst Month Since the Recession

Wall Street Journal (05/14/15) Ben Leubsdorf

March was the worst month for the U.S. economy since the financial crisis, although there’s no cause for concern just yet, according to Macroeconomic Advisers. Gross domestic product declined an inflation-adjusted 1.0%, the biggest drop since December 2008, after increasing 0.3% in February. The contraction largely is due to a drop in net exports caused by the resolution of a labor dispute at West Coast ports, and experts believe that the underlying weakness of the economy is being understated.

Manufacturers Alliance Lowers Economic Forecast for 2015

Industrial Distribution (05/15) Andy Szal

The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation Foundation has revised its gross domestic product expectations for 2015 down to 2.4% growth from the previously estimated growth of 3.0%. Projections for the manufacturing industry declined to 2.5% growth, down from the previous estimate of 3.7%. The change is due to falling oil prices, a rapidly contracting energy supply chain, a strong U.S. dollar, declining import prices, and a worsening trade deficit. This is expected to delay the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans to increase interest rates from near zero.

Welcome New ASA Members

The ASA board of directors and staff welcome the following new members, which joined during the week ending May 10.

ACA Talent
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Access Point Acquisition Co.
Lansing, MI

Horn Solutions Inc.
Sugar Land, TX

Staffing Kansas City
Overland Park, KS

Is your firm interested in joining ASA? Contact the membership department at 703-253-2020 or membership@americanstaffing.net.

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