September 4, 2015

AP Writeup on Muslim Billboard Campaign Ignores Terrorist Ties in Sponsoring Group’s History

On Thursday, the Associated Press published the equivalent of press release promoting a pro-Muslim billboard campaign orchestrated by the Islamic Circle of North America.

The writeup’s author, Rasha Madkour, failed to get any kind of skeptical comment from anyone about the nature of the campaign, and utterly failed to tell readers anything about the Islamic Circle’s or its spokesperson’s past (and possibly still-present) terrorist ties. Instead, readers were given the equivalent of a feel-good story about members trying to “reclaim the message” of Islam.

(more…)

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August Employment Situation Summary (090415): 173K Jobs Added (Arguably Overstated), Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.1 Percent, Malaise Continues

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:20 am

Today’s report is supposedly the Fed’s make-or-break decider on whether the U.S. economy can withstand any kind of interest rate. (Over six years into an alleged “recovery,” the economy is still so fragile that they’re not sure.)

Predictions:

  • Briefing.com, per Yahoo Business — 225,000 jobs added, 5.4 percent unemployment rate
  • “Markets, per Yahoo Business — 217,000 jobs added, 5.2 percent unemployment rate
  • Associated Press — 217,000 jobs added, 5.2 percent unemployment rate
  • Bloomberg — 217,000 jobs added, 5.2 percent unemployment rate

Not seasonally adjusted benchmarks:

Don’t have a chane to put up the graphics before the report comes out, but here are the benchmarks for the actual job additions we need to see for August before the Bureau of Labor Statistics seasonalizes the data. Achieving these would signal that the job market has genuinely begun to break out of its 5-1/2 years of relatively mediocre performance compared to past recoveries:

  • Total nonfarm payrolls — +500,000. This would be 62,000 higher than the 438,000 seen in August 2013. (Note: this revised after initial posting because yours truly was looking at the wrong table, but the benchmarking goal remains about equally as ambitious.)
  • Private sector — +275,000. This would be 66,000 higher than the 209,000 seen in August 2013.

The benchmarks are a bit lower than what I’d really like to see,

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS (permanent link) — Need to look deeper, but the topside numbers indicate that the malaise continues unabated:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 173,000 in August, and the unemployment rate edged down to 5.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in health care and social assistance and in financial activities. Manufacturing and mining lost jobs.

Household Survey Data

In August, the unemployment rate edged down to 5.1 percent, and the number of unemployed persons edged down to 8.0 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.0 percentage point and 1.5 million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites declined to 4.4 percent in August. The rates for adult men (4.7 percent), adult women (4.7 percent), teenagers (16.9 percent), blacks (9.5 percent), Asians (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (6.6 percent) showed little change in August.

… In August, the civilian labor force participation rate was 62.6 percent for the third consecutive month. The employment-population ratio, at 59.4 percent, was about unchanged in August and has shown little movement thus far this year.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 173,000 in August. Over the prior 12 months, employment growth had averaged 247,000 per month. In August, job gains occurred in health care and social assistance and in financial
activities. Employment in manufacturing and mining declined.

Health care and social assistance added 56,000 jobs in August. Health care employment increased by 41,000 over the month, with job growth occurring in ambulatory health care services (+21,000) and hospitals (+16,000). Employment rose by 16,000 in social assistance, which includes child day care services and services for the elderly and disabled. Over the year, employment has risen by 457,000 in health care and by 107,000 in social assistance.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from +231,000 to +245,000, and the change for July was revised from +215,000 to +245,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 44,000 more than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 221,000 per month.

The prior-month pickups are helpful, but (again pending a look at the raw numbers) they serve to show that August saw things weaken.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Benchmarks Comparison: Whoa, this is really ugly —

  • Total nonfarm payrolls — Benchmark: +500,000. Actual: +258,000. That’s the worst raw figure since 2010.
  • Private sector — Benchmark: +275,000. Actual: +71,000. That’s also the worst raw figure since 2010 — by over 100,000..

I’ll put up the revised tables in a bit, but I can say that the seasonally adjusted results (+173K overall and +140K for the private sector) both look overstated by 50K-75K. How convenient that Team Obama catches a (manipulated?) “break” just before the Labor Day weekend.

I’ll have other observations shortly.

HERE WE GO (references are to seasonally adjusted figures unless otherwise noted):

  • As usual, the unemployment rate dropped because the labor force shrunk by 41,000. The “not in labor force” figure is now an all-time record 94.031 million.
  • While the white unemployment rate dropped from 4.6 percent to 4.4 percent. The black unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent from 9.1 percent.
  • After 94 long months, seasonally adjusted full-time employment (122.024 million) finally exceeded the 121.875 million seen in November 2007. This is a volatile stat, so don’t be surprised if it falls back below the 2007 high during the next month or two.
  • Here’s a stunner — employment in the 25-54 age group (about 65 percent of the workforce), aka the “prime working years,” has only increased by 1.001 million in the past year (from 95.627 million to 96.628 million). Meanwhile, employment among those who are 55 and over (about 22 percent of the workforce) is up by even more (from 32.395 million to 33.423 million).
  • Establishment Survey job additions have the usual additions to the temp workforce (+10.7K) and Food and Drinking Places (+26.1K). Meanwhile employment in mining (-10K) and manufacturing (-17K) fell.
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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090415)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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September 3, 2015

AP Coverage of Manufacturing Continues to Ignore Its Steep, Documented Decline

The press’s failure to tell the public how seriously the U.S. economy is struggling is not the most egregious exercise in reality avoidance we’ve seen during the past several months. The willful denial of Iran’s intent to destroy Israel and its Western enemies, the refusal to acknowledge the inherent institutional ugliness of Planned Parenthood, and the failure to accurately characterize Hillary Clinton’s deliberate circumvention of established national security laws and protocols (all because “Her personal privacy was more important than the national interest”) are clearly worse.

Nevertheless, the economy-related deceptions have not been unimportant. The press promotes the general impression that, well, conditions aren’t ideal, but they’re the best we can hope for — and besides, our mess isn’t as bad as what we’re seeing in rest of the world (and by the way, if the U.S. economy does tank, it will be the rest of the world’s fault, and certainly not Dear Leader’s). Let’s compare Wednesday’s exercise in furthering that impression at the Associated Press and compare it to what is really happening.

(more…)

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ALL IS NOT WELL After Nine Months of Year-Over-Year Declines Factory Orders and Shipments

While the Institute for Supply Management’s surveys (manufacturing and non-manufacturing) tell us that all well, or at least positive, there’s this annoying problem: The hard data largely disagree.

Take factory orders and shipments, following yesterday’s July release from the Census Bureau. Lots of numbers here — I’ll just worry about explaining what’s highlighted and boxed.

First, shipments:

MfgShipmentsJanToJuly2005to2015

Points:

  • 2015 shipments have trailed the same month in 2014 in every single month this year, and in total are running 3.8 percent behind last year (3.7 percent behind after seasonal adjustment) last year. Not shown: November and December 2014 seasonally adjusted shipments also trailed the same two months in December 2013. That’s nine months in a row of year-over-year monthly declines.
  • 2015 shipments have trailed the same month in 2013 in four out of seven months so far this year, and 5 of 7 after seasonal adjustments (red boxes). Year-to-date, 2015 trails 2013 by 0.8 percent (o.7 percent after seasonal adjustments).
  • 2015 shipments have trailed the same month in 2008, in two of seven months so far this year, and 1 of 7 after seasonal adjustments (green boxes). Year-to-date 2015 shipments are only 1.3 percent higher than 2008 (1.8 percent after seasonal adjustment).

Now. orders:

MfgOrdersJanToJuly2005to2015

Points:

  • 2015 orders have trailed the same month in 2014 in every single month this year, and in total are running a breathtaking 7.3 percent behind last year (7.2 percent behind after seasonal adjustment) last year. Not shown: November and December 2014 also trailed the same two months in December 2013 (both raw and after seasonal adjustments). That’s also nine months in a row of year-over-year monthly declines.
  • 2015 orders have trailed the same month in 2013 in six out of seven months so far this year, and 5 of 7 after seasonal adjustments (red boxes). Year-to-date, 2015 trails 2013 by 2.4 percent (2.2 percent after seasonal adjustments).
  • 2015 orderss have trailed the same month in 2008, in five of seven months so far this year, and 6 of 7 after seasonal adjustments (green boxes). Year-to-date 2015 orders are 1.1 percent lower than 2008 (0.5 percent after seasonal adjustment).
  • July’s year-over-year orders declines are particularly steep. Much of that is due to July 2014 having an extraordinarily high level of aircraft orders. But even after factoring that out, the decline in everything else is about 6 percent.

The press has barely noticed any of this.

The output in the roughly one-third of the economy covered here is significantly smaller than it was a year ago. Yet we’re supposed to believe that there’s overall GDP growth. Excuse me for strongly doubting that — at least based on the real definition of GDP, as opposed to the consumption-based compilation that is the basis for the government’s GDP reports.

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August ISM Services: 59.0 Percent, Down From 60.3 in July; Still Historically High

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 12:29 pm

From the Institute for Supply Management (bolds are mine; paragraph breaks added by me):

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in August for the 67th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

… The NMI® registered 59 percent in August, 1.3 percentage points lower than the July reading of 60.3 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slower rate.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 63.9 percent, which is 1 percentage point lower than the July reading of 64.9 percent, reflecting growth for the 73rd consecutive month at a slower rate. The New Orders Index registered 63.4 percent, 0.4 percentage point lower than the reading of 63.8 percent in July.

The Employment Index decreased 3.6 percentage points to 56 percent from the July reading of 59.6 percent and indicates growth for the 18th consecutive month. The Prices Index decreased 2.9 percentage points from the July reading of 53.7 percent to 50.8 percent, indicating prices increased in August for the sixth consecutive month.

According to the NMI®, 15 (of 18) non-manufacturing industries reported growth in August. Overall, respondents continue to be optimistic about business conditions and the economy. This is reflected by indexes that are again strong; however, lower than what was seen in July.

It’s pretty hard to argue with such a high level of expansion, so I won’t. I’ll just note that this survey is very likely to have the same “favorable selection” bias the manufacturing survey almost certainly has.

In other words, we get results from places which have certified purchasing managers. Additionally, those certified purchasing managers report only the results they are experiencing at their individual facilities. Therefore, individual facilities without certified purchasing managers onsite are excluded.

wny does it matter? Because over the past decade-plus, and certainly accelerating since the onset of the Pelosi-Obama-Reid economy, I believe we would find that far fewer facilities have their own dedicated certified purchasing managers. That’s partially due to computerization and improved communications, and partially due to the marginally performing economy leading to cost-cutting and consolidation of efforts wherever possible. The facilities which don’t have dedicated managers are far more likely to be relatively small, not doing very well, or both.

Therefore, those who do report to ISM are not nearly as representative of U.S. business and industry as a whole as they were 10 years ago. So what we’re getting is how the cream of the crop sees things. That’s nice to know, but it’s nowhere near as helpful as it used to be in determining how the overally economy is doing.

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NewsBusted (090115)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 9:33 am

Here we go:

TOPICS:
– Wall Street Panic
– Hillary Clinton
– Donald Trump vs. Jorge Ramos
– Jeb Bush
– Black Lives Matter
– President Obama
– WNBA
– Oreo Cookies

Best Lines:

  • “There was a big panic on Wall Street last week. At one point, the stock market was falling faster than Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.”
  • “Last week, a 103- year-old woman threw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers game. Even though she tried her best, she still throws like President Obama.”
  • “And finally, Nabisco is moving production of Oreos from Chicago to Mexico. They say it’s cheaper to make the cookies south of the border, and then smuggle them into the U.S.”
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Initial Unemployment Claims (090315): 282K SA; Raw Claims (230K) 8 Percent Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:39 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending August 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 282,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 1,000 from 271,000 to 270,000. The 4-week moving average was 275,500, an increase of 3,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised down by 250 from 272,500 to 272,250.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 230,493 in the week ending August 29, an increase of 3,844 (or 1.7 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 5,409 (or -2.4 percent) from the previous week. There were 249,780 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

The seasonal adjusment factors were almost identical for the past week and the same week last year.

Not a lot of drama here, and the 12,000-claim seasonally adjusted increase from last week really should cause any kind of concern. That should be reserved for the failure of seasonally adjusted full-time employment to recover from its late-2007 peak.

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090315)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’s Statement (Also See Updates)

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

Released September 1 (Link):

I have worked in the Rowan County Clerk’s office for 27 years as a Deputy Clerk and was honored to be elected as the Clerk in November 2014, and took office in January 2015. I love my job and the people of Rowan County. I have never lived any place other than Rowan County. Some people have said I should resign, but I have done my job well. This year we are on track to generate a surplus for the county of 1.5 million dollars.

In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God.

I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. For me it is a decision of obedience. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word. It is a matter of religious liberty, which is protected under the First Amendment, the Kentucky Constitution, and in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Our history is filled with accommodations for people’s religious freedom and conscience. I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned – that conscience and religious freedom would be protected. That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position. I have received death threats from people who do not know me. I harbor nothing against them. I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.

_______________________________

UPDATE: Perspective (HT to an emailer; bolds are mine; PLEASE read the whole thing):

A consensus appears to be developing among otherwise reasonable people that Kim Davis, of Rowan County fame, either needs to start issuing marriage licenses or quit her job.

… surrendering hills is not the best way to train for defending the most important ones. Retreat is habit-forming.

… But Kim Davis is not just keeping herself from sinning, she is preventing Rowan County from sinning. That is part of her job.

Every Christian elected official should be determining, within the scope of their duties, which lines they will not allow the state to cross. When they come to that line, they should refuse to cross it because “this is against the law of God.” They should do this as part of their official responsibilities. This is part of their job. It is one of the things they swear to do when they take office.

If just ten governors treated Obergefell the same way Kim Davis is treating it, that entire unrighteous and despotic imposition would collapse and fall to the ground. And if they did so, they would not be sinning against the United States. Rather, they would be preventing the United States from sinning.

The end game here is not armed revolution. The end game is simply a refusal to cooperate with their revolution. Make them fire or impeach faithful officials. Once removed, such faithful officials should run for office again with a promise to continue to defy all forms of unrighteous despotism. As one friend of mine put it, “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”

Some might ask what the good in that would be. Wouldn’t it just result in no Christians in such positions? Perhaps, but it would be far better to have godless results enforced by the godless than to insist that the godly do it for them. It would be far better to have the “no Christians in power results” when it was actually the case that no Christians were in power. I would rather have non-Christian clerks acting like non-Christian clerks than to have Christian clerks do it for them.

So, without a doubt, would our Heavenly Father.

UPDATE 2: Steve Deace“Is the Wrong Woman Running for President?

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September 2, 2015

ADP August Private-Sector Payrolls: +190K, Trailing Expectations

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:01 am

From the National ADP Employment Report:

Private-sector employment increased by 190,000 from July to August, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Expectations were +220K per Briefing.com and +201K per the “markets.” Revisions to the two previous months were minor.

From the press release:

“The job growth numbers for August improved slightly from July,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. “The employment gains for the month are in line with the year to date average.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “Recent global financial market turmoil has not slowed the U.S. job market, at least not yet. Job growth remains strong and broad-based, except in the energy industry, which continues to shed jobs. Large companies also remain more cautious in their hiring than smaller ones.”

Gee, Mark, the past two months look more than a little bit slower in this graph:

NER-August-2015.aspx.gif

Additionally, the data was collected before the “market turmoil.” ADP admits it in its full description of its methodology:

By combining the pay date and the frequency of pay, Moody’s Analytics matches the BLS pay period concept as closely as possible.

In the most straightforward case, the derived pay period includes the 12th of the month.

The Dow didn’t start dropping significantly until August 19, following the first day of a horrid multi-day dive at the Shanghai exchange.

In other words, Mark Zandi is dissembling. The past two months’ mediocre numbers pre-date the “market turmoil,” and we don’t yet have information relaing to its effect on employment.

To be clear, we also won’t have that information on Friday when the government reports its numbers, because that report also pegs from the 12th of the month — but we can expect that most in the establishment press, regardless of the results, won’t see it that way.

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Wedesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090215)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: What to learn at the World Meeting of Families: The family is a gift from God

Filed under: Activism,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Aug 30, 2015 / 10:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The World Meeting of Families event next month in Philadelphia aims to lead families to know their importance as a gift from God and to help them open their hearts to Jesus Christ, a priest involved in the event has said.

The family “is the place where we feel most loved, most protected, most safe, valued,” Father William Donovan, one of the meeting’s main organizers, told CNA. “In the natural economy of things, one could say after the gift of life itself, the second greatest gift God has given us is family.”

“The reason is because, once God gives us life, he also wants us to have a full life. He wants us to be loved, to be protected, to be safe, to be secure, to be valued,” said the Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest who also serves as Archbishop Charles Chaput’s liaison to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

This year’s World Meeting of Families will take place from September 22-27 with the theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” Its closing Mass with Pope Francis will mark the end of his first visit to the United States. The meeting also includes presentations, testimonies, and other events.

“The idea is that we want to try to bring as many resources and assistance to the human family so that they can understand and execute its role as a place of love,” said Fr. Donovan.

Pope John Paul II founded the international event in 1994 to encourage families and to strengthen familial bonds. The event takes place every three years in a different city around the world. …

“>Go here for the rest of the story.

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September 1, 2015

August ISM Manufacturing Index: 51.1 Percent vs. 52.5 Expectations, Down From 52.7 in July (Update: Construction Spending Comes in Strong)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:24 am

From the Institute for Supply Management (bolds are mine; some paragraph breaks added by me):

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in August for the 32nd consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 75th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The August PMI® registered 51.1 percent, a decrease of 1.6 percentage points from the July reading of 52.7 percent.

The New Orders Index registered 51.7 percent, a decrease of 4.8 percentage points from the reading of 56.5 percent in July. The Production Index registered 53.6 percent, 2.4 percentage points below the July reading of 56 percent.

The Employment Index registered 51.2 percent, 1.5 percentage points below the July reading of 52.7 percent. Inventories of raw materials registered 48.5 percent, a decrease of 1 percentage point from the July reading of 49.5 percent. The Prices Index registered 39 percent, down 5 percentage points from the July reading of 44 percent, indicating lower raw materials prices for the 10th consecutive month. The New Export Orders Index registered 46.5 percent, down 1.5 percentage points from the July reading of 48 percent.

Comments from the panel reflect a mix of modest to strong growth depending upon the specific industry, the positive impact of lower raw materials prices, but also a continuing concern over export growth.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 10 are reporting growth in August …

Six of the remaining eight industries were in contraction.

Expectations as seen at Yahoo’s Business Calendar averaged 52.5 percent.

51.1 percent, while still expansion (any reading above 50 percent represents expansion), is certainly not strongly so.

Of the three primary GDP drivers, the New Orders and Production declines are certainly significant, and Backlog of Order remained in contraction, while less seriously so (46.5 percent in August vs. 42.5 percent in July).

The problem for some time has been that this index has portrayed a rosier picture than we have seen in the related government data, which has mostly been in a year-over-year hard-data decline during 2015 thus far. So today’s news doesn’t bode well for third quarter GDP, which by many estimates is due to come in at an annualized 2.0 percent or below — perhaps far below.

I believe that ISM, although not intentionally so, is cherry-picking manufacturing facilities which are doing well and not adequately considering those which either aren’t doing well or have closed. I would suggest that since ISM’s index isn’t positive by all that much, the manufacturing sector as a whole is likely in at least a mild contraction.

___________________________

UPDATE: Better news came from the Census Bureau’s July Construction Spending report:

&The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced today that construction spending during July 2015 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,083.4 billion, 0.7 percent (±1.5%)* above the revised June estimate of $1,075.9 billion. The July figure is 13.7 percent (±2.0%) above the July 2014 estimate of $952.5 billion.

During the first 7 months of this year, construction spending amounted to $583.2 billion, 9.3 percent (±1.5%) above the $533.7 billion for the same period in 2014.

June’s increase was revised up from +0.1 percent to 0.7 percent.

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Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090115)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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