Economic Indicators Give Mixed Message About National Economy
Economic indicators seem to indicate that the US economy is treading water with some indicators up and others down .
American consumers continue to spend what they don’t have.
Credit card indebtedness reached a record $1.03 trillion in the second quarter of 2023, according to the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Total household debt exceeds $17 trillion, with 72.4% of that coming from mortgages and home equity lines of credit.
The Index of Consumer Sentiment ticked down from 71.6 in July to 71.2 in August. The July reading was the best reading since October 2021. But Americans remain anxious about the economy overall.
The Small Business Optimism Index increased from 91.0 in June to 91.9 in July, the highest reading since November. Despite the uptick in sentiment, small business owners remain concerned about the economy, with the uncertainty index rising to a 25-month high. The top “single most important problem” was the difficulty in finding enough qualified labor (23%), followed closely by inflation (21%). Despite this, fewer NFIB business members plan to increase prices over the next three months… falling to the lowest rate since December 2020.
Consumer prices rose 0.2% in July for the second straight month, with 3.2% growth over the past 12 months. Excluding food and energy, core consumer inflation has increased 4.7% since July 2022, the weakest reading since October 2021.
Yet, core inflation remained stubbornly high.
Producer prices for final demand goods and services rose 0.3% in July, the strongest gain since January but driven largely by higher costs for services.
Overall, inflation continued to moderate, but even so the Federal Reserve is predicted to keep interest relatively high. They are not being predicted to make any changes in interest rates at their next meeting in September.