Health Insurance Data: 2019 Update

In the upcoming election season, Democrats and Republicans will continue to go head to head over various hot button topics as they jostle for control of the White House and Congress. Healthcare will be one of those topics primed for debate amongst candidates as discussions over "Medicare for All" continue to take center stage. In those debates, potential voters will hear the latest data rattled off as candidates look to bolster their talking points. Those data points will likely come from the Census Bureau's latest edition of the "Health Insurance Coverage in the United States" report which highlights their 2019 findings. Here are some highlights. 
The number most likely to be taken from this report is the total number of individuals without health insurance in 2019, and it's a lot more complicated than just a number. The Census Bureau cites two different numbers from two different surveys in the report, the Current Population Survey 2020 Annual Social and E…

Can Real Estate Supply Keep Up with Hot Demand?

Economic Report Monitor #59
August 14th, 2020

New residential figures for July came out and provided a fresh but of optimism for a strong economic recovery. Housing starts jumped 22.6% in July, another huge bounce, leading to a July total 23.4% higher than last year. The 1.496 million unit starts that beat expectations of 1.24 million heavily. 
It was multifamily home units that carried the number in July with a 56.7% increase in that category to 547,000 units. The number is the strongest since January 2020 (619,000 units) and is 67.8% higher than a year ago. Single-family homes were up just 8.2% to 940,000 units, slightly lagging the 1,034,000 units in February. Since single-family homes are typically more in demand, it's slightly concerning to see that category lag the overall trend.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index report pointed to hot demand for single-family homes coming out of the bottom of the COVID-19 economy. The index rose to 78 in August surpassing the near-term h…

Consumer Spending Looks Strong Despite Pandemic

Economic Report Monitor #59
August 14th, 2020

Retail sales in July confirmed what most people were expecting. The economic recovery has slowed with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases stalling reopening processes. Overall, sales increased just 1.2% after they surged 8.4% in June and failed to meet expectations of 2.3% that economists surveyed by Dow Jones suggested. Despite growth being muted in July, sales for the first 7 months of 2020 are down just -2.1% from the same period in 2019. Excluding motor vehicles & parts and gasoline stations, that number is actually 0.2% higher.

Motor vehicles & parts also dragged July retail sales lower with a -1.2% drop for the month. Retail sales without that category were 1.9% and closer to expectations. Building material & garden equipment & supplies dealer also dragged sales with a -2.9% drop itself. Furniture stores were flat at 0.0%. These numbers might point to further pain for durable goods categories which was most intense at the beg…

COVID-19 Unemployment Still Elevated but Mostly Temporary

Economic Report Monitor #58
August 7th, 2020

Following the disappointing number on Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistic's official report of the employment situation came out today. In a similar fashion, the BLS report showed a slower recovery in July as only 1.8 million jobs were added with the unemployment rate falling just 0.9% to 10.2%. While this beat expectations of about 1.6 million, it confirmed that a V-shaped recovery in the labor market is unlikely to materialize.

The number of unemployed individuals dropped by just 1.4 million to 16.3 million but is still up by about 10.6 million since February. Most of the COVID-19 losses remain as the number of individuals that have been jobless for 15 to 26 weeks rose by 4.6 million to total 6.5 million. Fresh job losses that occurred in the last 5 weeks are about 3.2 million, with just 364,000 added in July, suggesting the contraction in employment has slowed significantly.
Most of the job additions were temporary layoffs which fel…

ADP Employment Disappoints, But Small Businesses Notch Jobs Gain

Economic Report Monitor #57 August 5th, 2020
The first of the jobs numbers came out today for July as the ADP Employment Report was released before the market opened. The number largely disappointed with an increase of 167,000 in private payrolls, well below the June reading of 4.314 million and the expected number for July of 1.5 million. Based on the report, it seems that the resurgence of cases has influenced reopening processes to slow and in some cases stop completely.

Larger companies lead the gains adding 129,000 jobs in July with medium businesses shedding -25,000 and small businesses adding 63,000. Small businesses probably only outperformed medium businesses because reopening processes are likely favoring operations with small numbers of employees working at a time. Businesses with only 1-19 employees, typically the most economically sensitive, added 45,000 jobs, the second-most behind businesses with 1,000+ at 111,000.
The sectors that added the most jobs were in the service se…

Breaking Down the Worst Quarterly GDP Decline in US History

Economic Report Monitor #56 July 30th, 2020

The long-awaited 2020 Q2 GDP came out today after months of deliberation on how the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown would initially impact the economy. Consensus estimates suggested that 2020 Q2 GDP would fall about -34% from the previous quarter in the largest drop in economic output in history. The official advance estimate came in at -32.9% just above expectations but still the worst quarterly GDP data point ever reported. Stocks saw mixed reactions as the Dow (-0.85%) and the S&P 500 (-0.38%) finished lower while the Nasdaq (0.43%) actually saw a gain. The 10-year Treasury yield dropped back to its low near 0.55% as investors continued to move away from risk.
Personal consumption, which has been a strong driver of GDP growth in the past, tanked -34.6% in the second quarter with service spending seeing the largest drop at -43.5%. Goods expenditures fared slightly better at -11.3% as the goods economy adjusted to the new COVID-19 envir…

Consumer Expectations Sour as Market Turns Lower

Economic Report Monitor #55 July 28th, 2020
Consumer confidence is an important indicator of consumption and overall economic health as the US economy as measured by GDP is heavily driven by consumption. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, current measures of consumer confidence in the two main surveys for the indicator, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index and the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, have trended near all-time lows comparable to the 2008 financial crisis. However, readings of expectations typically fared better as the initial evaluation of consumers was that the lockdowns and pandemic would be temporary. Almost 5 months later, those trends have begun to reverse.

In today's Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index July report, the index reported a drop from 98.3 in June to 92.6 in July with a large deterioration in expectations. The current conditions index continued to improve as reopening measures assuaged concerns of financial instabil…