Issues in the Brief
Durable Good Report: Concerns Rise on Weak Data
For 2015, new orders for durable goods excluding transportation fell by a discouraging 2.6%. “Adding to concerns about a significant slowdown in U.S. economic growth, new orders for long-lasting (durable) goods tumbled by 5.1% in December,” noted Waldman.
Just a Nudge: Behavioral Economics at the Office
Governments and employers (including Google) are experimenting with nudging people into better decisions, including those shaping productivity, health, safety and personal finances. In some cases, employers can see benefits from actions as simple as stocking smaller plates in company cafeterias and rephrasing reminders for flu shot clinics.
Crosscurrents in the Jobs Picture
January’s blizzard, though disruptive, was clearly not responsible for the month’s slower job growth. Odd temperature patterns might have created unusual seasonal volatility in employment performance for both December and January, however. Cliff concludes that the somewhat atypical crosscurrents underlying the January report, both natural and human, prohibit us from inferring just yet that an economic slowdown is measurably affecting the labor market.
Manufacturing’s Economic Impact: So Much Bigger Than We Think
Two measures commonly used by the government to measure manufacturing’s overall impact on society are badly underestimating the impact of that critical sector. One is the proportion of gross domestic product for which manufacturing accounts. The other is the “multiplier effect,” which measures the impact on other industries from an increase in economic activity by a specific industry.
Big-Picture Issues Are Dramatically Reshaping Industry
Manufacturing’s leaders are facing unprecedented global complexity and economic, demographic, and technological shifts are turning the way manufacturers do business on its head.
U.S. Trade Deficit in Manufactures Soars in 2015; Chinese Surplus Up
The U.S. trade deficit in manufactures in 2015 soared by $89 billion, or 16%, to $650 billion, which resulted in a trade-related loss of 600,000 American manufacturing jobs, up from a job loss of 400,000 in 2014. Sixty percent of the global deficit was with China, with U.S. manufactured imports from China 5.8 times larger than U.S. exports to China.
European Industrial Outlook: Recovery Picking Up Speed
The European economic recovery is on solid ground, with domestic demand growing robustly in virtually all countries. Manufacturing is expanding more quickly in Europe than in the U.S., driven increasingly by pent-up consumer demand and growing appetite for investment goods. Central Europe’s industrial markets continue to grow about twice as fast as their developed counterparts in Western Europe.
Manufacturing Update, January 2016
For last year as a whole, manufacturing output grew a very slow 2% and the trade imbalance worsened. The sector’s employment was up by 30,000 for the year, a far cry from the 2014 increase of 215,000.
Industrial Production Report ‘Should Allay Fears’ that Manufacturing is in Recession
MAPI Foundation Vice President and Chief Economist Daniel J. Meckstroth notes that while industrial production fell 0.4% in December, following a 0.9% decline in November, the makeup of the downturn is important. The reason for the decline in the fourth quarter of 2015 was due to energy production, not manufacturing.
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