RETAIL SALES GREW 0.2 PERCENT IN FEBRUARY

February retail sales grew 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 0.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year, according to calculations released today by the National Retail Federation. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“Sales growth held up well, given warmer than normal weather and tax refund delays,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

“While consumers benefit by purchasing more for less, the top-line retail numbers reflect a lack of pricing power and, in many cases, hide underlying consumer demand.”

“While consumer spending in the first quarter has been erratic and most often weak, it registers positive improvement as the year continues,” Kleinhenz said.

On a three-month moving average year-over-year, retail sales have grown 2.8 percent. When looking at business lines, performance in February was very mixed as electronics and appliance stores saw declines while building materials and garden supplies saw solid growth.

A few specifics from the report include:

  • Online and other non-store sales increased 1.2 percent over the previous month and increased 8.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at clothing and accessories stores decreased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and decreased 1.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at general merchandise stores decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1.4 percent year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliances stores’ sales decreased 2.8 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 9.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales increased 0.7 percent over the previous month and increased 1.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at building materials and supplies stores increased 1.8 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 3.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores’ sales decreased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 6.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 2.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

FOLLOWING JOB GAINS IN JANUARY, RETAILERS SCALE BACK IN FEBRUARY

Retail industry employment decreased by 31,300 jobs in February from January, offsetting gains made the previous month, the National Retail Federation said today. The retail numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Despite the correction in retail, the overall economy gained 235,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department said.

“Mild weather contributed to retailers scaling back employment in February, reversing the gains the industry made in January,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “However, the surge in consumer and business optimism may have propelled the economy-wide increase in jobs last month and supports our prediction for stronger consumer spending and retail sales for 2017.”

Average hourly earnings were up 2.8 percent year-over-year, compared with 2.5 percent in January.

The Labor Department said February unemployment fell to 4.7 percent, down from 4.8 percent in January.

ACE Report: Service sector keys Northeast Ohio job growth

Employment in the Cleveland-Akron metropolitan area was up by 8,017 jobs in January, recovering from a decline in December, according to an estimate from the Ahola Crain’s Employment (ACE) Report.

Seasonally adjusted, the region saw employment rise to 1,179,851 from 1,171,834 a month earlier, a 0.68% increase. Most of the growth, 6,900 jobs, was in the service sector, though the goods producing sector saw a rise of 1,196 jobs. In December, the region lost 1,879 jobs.

The estimates also show a 0.35% increase over the number of people working a year earlier, an increase of 4,102 jobs.

“January’s employment estimates exceeded both the three-month and six-month average,” said Jack Kleinhenz, the Cleveland Heights economist who created the ACE model. “The pace of job creation suggests that growth in regional economic activity appears to be at a modest pace early in 2017.”

Kleinhenz attributed that optimism to key regional and national trends affecting the estimates. He said unemployment claims for the region decreased by 20% compared with the like month a year ago, and, nationally, construction and retail sales both show growth.

Despite the occasional month-to-month wobble, employment in the region has been rising steadily, if slowly. Since January 2013, the region’s seasonally adjusted employment has grown by 30,654 jobs, a 2.67% increase. During the same time period, the unemployment rate has dropped from 7.8% to 5.1%, according to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

That labor market tightening may be putting pressure on wages to rise. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for example, said in late January that it would shrink a training program that new employees must complete to earn $10 an hour to three months from six months. Two years ago, the company increased its minimum wage to $9 an hour.

More broadly, the Society for Human Resource Management reported at the end of January that wages are forecast to grow by an average of 3.2% year over year during the first quarter of 2017. Over 2016, the federal Bureau of Labor Standards reported, the average hourly wage grew by 2.9%.

Glassdoor, the online job site, reported on Jan. 31 that annual median base pay hit 3.2%.“The tight U.S. labor market continues to drive wages up in many cities across the country,” said Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain in a news release. Glassdoor labor market reports, he said, “show a picture of a strong labor market.”

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

Month Non-Farm Small (1-49) Mid-Sized (50+) Goods-producing Service Producing
June 2016 1,167,272   475,237    692,035   211,159    956,113
July  (est) 1,175,426   478,218    697,208   217,488    957,938
Aug (est) 1,171,406  476,740    694,667   214,497    956,909
Sept (est) 1,170,029  476,266    693,763   213,003    957,026
Oct (est) 1,173,327   477,567    695,759   214,185    959,142
Nov (est) 1,174,185  477,878    696,306   214,891    959,294
Dec (est) 1,171,834  476,901    694,934   214,765    957,070
Jan (est) 1,179,851  480,192    699,659   215,821    964,031

Recent Month’s Estimated Change

Month Non-Farm Small (1-49) Mid-Sized (50+) Goods-producing Service Producing
Dec ’16 to Jan ’17 8,017 3,291.49   4,725   1,056   6,961
Diff from Jan 2016 4,102 1,733   2,369   (160)   4,262

Trend

Date Non-Farm Small (1-49) Mid-Sized (50+) Goods-producing Service Producing
3-month 1,175,290  478,324   696,967    215,159    960,131
6-month 1,173,439  477,591   695,848    214,527    958,912

By

February 24, 2017

RETAIL SALES UP 0.4 PERCENT IN JANUARY

January retail sales grew a solid 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year and 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from an already-strong December, according to calculations released today by the National Retail Federation. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“The healthy monthly gain was driven by January’s strong payroll gains, retail employment gains and business sentiment.”
Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist

“The retail industry started the year on a high note, continuing the momentum from the 2016 holiday season. The healthy monthly gain was driven by January’s strong payroll gains, retail employment gains and business sentiment,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

“We haven’t seen strong January growth in several years, which indicates that consumers are increasing their spending and remain the leading driver of the economy,” Kleinhenz said.

There were broad-based monthly increases across the majority of sectors, with the exception of non-store, which was flat in January.

A few specifics from the report include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were flat over the previous month and increased 14.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at clothing and accessories stores increased 1 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and increased 0.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at general merchandise stores increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1.4 percent year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliances stores’ sales increased 1.6 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales were flat over the previous month and decreased 0.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at building materials and supplies stores increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 6.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores’ sales increased 1.8 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 3.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 9.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

ACE Report: NE Ohio job-creation engine sputtered at the end of 2016

by SCOTT SUTTELL
The end of 2016 was not kind to Northeast Ohio’s job market, according to the latest Ahola Crain’s Employment (ACE) Report.

Seasonally adjusted employment in December for the seven-county area of Cleveland and Akron measured by the report was 1,170,985, a decline of 1,879 jobs from 1,172,864 in November. And November was no great shakes, either; its total job number was just 286 higher than the October figure calculated in the ACE Report.

Jack Kleinhenz, the Cleveland Heights economist who created the ACE Report model, noted in an analysis of the December data that the seasonally adjusted jobs figure for last month “is below its three-month and six-month average and suggests economic activity and job growth has lost some momentum from the faster pace that was evident in prior months.”
But it’s impossible to draw firm conclusions from one subpar month in one statistical category.

Kleinhenz wrote in his analysis, “We are not sure that the regional economy has made a fundamental change, nor has the national economy, since employment is only one gauge that measures economic activity.” He noted, for instance, that a gauge of economic activity created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia rose in Ohio by 2.2% on a year-over-year basis, and recent construction and retail sales data “also show gains.”

Kleinhenz added that “choppy employment” around the end of a calendar year “is not unusual given shifting seasonal hiring patterns. It is typical for the trajectory of monthly employment to be pared significantly back. We expect a similar pattern to take place and recognize that some dampening of the pace of employment gains is projected.”

Kleinhenz wrote in his analysis that regional initial unemployment claims, a factor in the ACE Report model, had been at “historically low levels” but then “kicked up in the middle of December.” Such claims “are usually variable around the holidays because of winter weather, school closures and shifting seasonal hiring patterns,” according to Kleinhenz.

Meanwhile, he wrote, January employment “looks to be a better month based upon a reduction in initial unemployment claims.” Also, he noted that “most measures” of consumer and business sentiment “have shown notable improvement since the November election, raising expectation that economic activity will accelerate at the national and regional levels.”

The national economy “is expected to gain further traction in 2017,” according to Kleinhenz. “Regional growth during 2016 might have been stronger had it not been for weakness in metals production and the energy industry. In addition, the weak global economy and a strong dollar hurt export related firms output and associated employment.”

Despite these developments, he wrote, “the regional outlook (is) promising as national indexes tracking production and new orders in the most recent ISM (Institute for Supply Management) survey rose to levels posted in late-2014.”

Month Non-Farm Small(1-49) Mid-Sized Goods Service
(50+) Producing Producing
June 2016 (act) 1,167,272 475,237 692,035 211,159 956,113
July (est) 1,175,080 478,077 697,003 217,432 957,648
Aug (est) 1,171,211 476,665 694,546 214,391 956,821
Sept (est) 1,169,702 476,139 693,563 212,852 956,851
Oct (est) 1,172,614 477,287 695,327 213,914 958,700
Nov (est) 1,172,864 477,358 695,506 214,400 958,463
Dec (est) 1,170,985 476,588 694,397 214,137 956,848

Recent Month’s Estimated Change
Nov ’16 to Dec ’16 (1,879) (770.15) (1,108) (264) (1,615)
Diff from Dec 2015 1,757 883 874 (2,085) 3,842

Trend
3-month 1,172,154 477,078 695,077 214,150 958,004
6-month 1,172,076 477,019 695,057 214,521 957,555

ACE Report: Northeast Ohio posts small employment gain in November

Northeast Ohio eked out a small employment gain in November, according to the latest Ahola Crain’s Employment (ACE) Report.

Seasonally adjusted employment in November for the seven-county area of Cleveland and Akron measured by the report was 1,172,672, a gain of just 286 jobs from 1,172,386 in October.

The change is small, but Jack Kleinhenz, the Cleveland Heights economist who created the ACE Report model noted it was unusual in this respect: The region lost 152 service jobs from October to November, but it added 438 jobs in goods-producing fields.

“The offset is a turnaround from recent trends where the growth in service jobs offset losses in manufacturing,” Kleinhenz wrote in an analysis of the November ACE Report data.

The region remains in positive jobs territory from a year ago. Kleinhenz said November employment in Northeast Ohio was up by 4,570 jobs from the like month of 2015.

November’s jobs figure also is above the ACE Report’s seasonally adjusted three- and six-month averages, which “suggests economic activity and job growth has picked up some momentum from the slower pace of job growth the region experienced in the second quarter,” according to Kleinhenz.

Underlying November’s ACE Report  figures are some positive regional and national trends.

For instance, Kleinhenz wrote in his analysis that  unemployment claims for the region “decreased by 22% over the same month a year ago. Coincidental measures for Ohio are up 2.2%, and  construction put in place and retail sales show gains in the last three months.”

National indicators show an economy that is picking up the pace.

U.S. Gross Domestic Product was revised higher to 3.2% for the third quarter, which Kleinhenz wrote is a “significant number relative to the average 2.2% growth we have seen  in this expansion.”

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index in November posted a reading of 53.2, which ties the fastest pace of this  manufacturing sector indicator over the past 18 months, according to Kleinhenz. (A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding.)

He also noted that the Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index, a broader measure of the health of the labor market than provided by any single report, “indicates that the labor market is continuing its path of improvement.”

The Fed’s labor index increased by 1.5 points in November, about the same level of improvement as in October.

“All in all, these national trends should be a good indicator of what to expect at the state and regional levels,” Kleinhenz concluded.

Seaonally adjusted data

Month Non-Farm  Small (1-49)  Mid-Sized (50+) Goods-producing Service Producing
June 2016 (act) 1,167,272   475,237   692,035 211,159 956,113
July (est) 1,175,087   478,079   697,008 217,449 957,638
Aug (est) 1,171,162   476,645   694,518 214,389 956,773
Sept (est) 1,169,567   476,086   693,480 212,792 956,775
Oct (est) 1,172,386   477,203   695,183 213,748 958,638
Nov (est) 1,172,672   477,293   695,380 214,186 958,486
Recent Month’s Estimated Change
Oct ’16 to Nov ’16 286   89.50   197 438 (152)
Diff from Nov 2015 4,570   2,016   2,554 (1,403) 5,973
Trend
3-month 1,171,542   476,861   694,681 213,575 957,966
6-month 1,171,358   476,757   694,601 213,954 957,404

Retail Sales See Solid Gains in First Half of Holiday Season

November retail sales grew a solid 5 percent year over year and 0.1 percent from an already-strong October as consumers found the deals they were hoping for both online and in stores and showed their purchasing power during the first half of the holiday season, according to calculations released today by the National Retail Federation. Online and other non-store sales grew 15.3 percent year over year, reflecting the growth of online shopping. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“Consumers were able to take advantage of low prices throughout the first half of the holiday season, checking out with full baskets but paying less even though purchasing was up,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The combination of job and wage gains led to solid holiday spending by American households.”

“Consumers have the wherewithal to spend but households remain measured and rational, which is no surprise given their history since the recovery began in 2009,” Kleinhenz said.

There were broad-based monthly increases across the majority of sectors with the exception of sporting goods.

November’s results indicate that retail sales for the holiday season will meet or exceed NRF’s holiday sales forecast, which anticipates an increase of 3.6 percent over last year’s level for November and December. For a look into the art of forecasting, read Kleinhenz’s article: The Art and Science of Economic Forecasting.

A few specifics from the report include:

  • Online and other non-store sales increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 15.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at clothing and accessories stores were flat from the previous month and increased 1.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at general merchandise stores increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 1.4 percent year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliances stores’ sales increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 2.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores’ sales decreased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and decreased 7.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at building materials and supplies stores increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 7.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores’ sales decreased 1 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 1.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sales at health and personal care stores increased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and increased 7.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

More people shopped over Thanksgiving weekend than last year — but they spent less

About 154 million shoppers made purchases at stores or on e-commerce sites this holiday weekend, the National Retail Federation reported Sunday, a bump up from the 151 million people who last year participated in the annual barrage of Black Friday deals.

And though it is encouraging for the retail industry that more consumers opened their wallets this time around, it wasn’t all good news: Average spending per person was down to $289.19 from $299.60 in 2015.

Matt Shay, the chief executive of the National Retail Federation (NRF), attributed the decline in spending to just how deep and broad the discounts were over the four-day weekend. While the promotions offered during this period were probably preplanned and thus baked into the retailers’ sales plans, it could prove a troublesome dynamic for them if ultra-deep discounts end up being needed all season long to get people shopping.

But other factors could have contributed to the decline in per-person spending: Retailers have been spreading their Black Friday deals out over a longer stretch, so it’s possible that many people pounced on offers several days before Thanksgiving even arrived. And NRF’s survey found that about 122 million people plan to shop on Cyber Monday, up from 121 million last year. So perhaps some consumers are holding out for the fresh batch of deals that will arrive after the weekend comes to an end.

The survey results reflect the increasing importance of e-commerce in the retail landscape. This year, about 108.5 million people shopped online over the holiday season, compared with 103 million last year. Meanwhile, the number of people who shopped in stores fell to 99.1 million from 101 million last year.

Indeed, other data released this weekend offers evidence that online spending was strong on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Adobe, which analyzed 22.6 billion visits to retail websites, reports that a record $3.34 billion was spent online on Black Friday, up 21.6 percent from the previous year. Sales on Thanksgiving Day were up 11.5 percent to $1.93 billion.

Adobe’s research found that top-selling items included iPads, Samsung 4K televisions and toys such as Lego Creator sets and the Barbie Dreamhouse.

The NRF had earlier projected that the retail industry would see a 3.6 percent increase in sales this holiday season over last year. That would be significantly better than the 3 percent growth registered in 2015. The trade group’s chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, said Sunday that he believes that prediction “holds up pretty well” right now, even as some have asked whether the surprising election results might have altered consumers’ mind-set.

Experts say that in a presidential campaign year, we typically see that the election serves as a temporary distraction, with shoppers getting their gift-buying started a little later than they might otherwise. NRF’s survey seems to reflect that dynamic: About 23 percent of respondents said they hadn’t started their holiday shopping yet, compared with 19 percent last year. And a smaller share of people have finished their holiday shopping. This year, just 9 percent of shoppers have done so, compared with 11 percent last year.

 

November 27 at 3:53 PM

The Washington Post

Photo:Byron Siekavizza wheels his television to his car as he gets a jump-start on shopping for deals at Best Buy on Thanksgiving in Alexandria. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

ACE Report: Service sector sparks October jobs gain

The region reversed two months of job declines in October, adding 2,498 jobs, according to the Ahola Crain’s Employment (ACE) Report.

Seasonally adjusted, the region saw employment rise to 1,171,849 from 1,169,351 a month earlier, a 0.2% increase.

While the service-producing sector shows a year-over-year gain of 5,407 jobs, the goods-producing sector declined by 2,181 jobs. Smoothing out the month-to-month figures, on a year-over-year basis, the seven-county workforce increased 3,226 jobs, a gain of 0.3%, since October 2015.

The regional decline in the goods-producing sector echoes the national pattern. The United States lost 9,000 manufacturing jobs in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Service employment has been growing, but manufacturing payrolls are either sluggish or declining,” reported Jack Kleinhenz, the Cleveland Heights economist who created the ACE model. “The factory sector continues to face stiff headwinds, including weak global demand due to sluggish growth abroad, a strong dollar and low commodity prices.

Longer term, employment in the goods-producing sector peaked in July 1979 at 25,163,000. Since then, sector employment has declined by 5,548,000 — or 22% — to its current level of 19,615,000. Those jobs have been lost largely to automation and shop-floor tracking systems that increase efficiency and, to a lesser degree, to globalization.

A bright spot at the national level, Kleinhenz said, is the 0.4% gain in average hourly earnings, up 2.8% over the past year.

Economists at Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group called that growth in average hourly earnings the fastest increase in seven years.

“As the job market gets tighter, firms are responding to tougher competition for workers by raising pay,” the financial services firm said in its Nov. 4 economic report. “This is very good news for incomes and consumer spending.”

The Federal Reserve Board’s most recent Beige Book, which gathers anecdotal information on each region of the country, said of the Cleveland region, “Wage pressures were most evident in the construction and retail sectors across skill levels. Reports from staffing firms about job openings and placements were mixed, though all contacts noted an increase in the number of temporary positions.”

Seaonally adjusted data

Custom-Chart-1
Month Non-Farm Small (1-49) Mid-Sized (50+) Goods-producing Service Producing
Mar-16(actual) 1,175,919   478,541   697,378 215,829 960,090
April (est) 1,169,858   476,032   693,826 215,323 954,536
May (est) 1,174,111   477,748   696,363 216,312 957,799
Jun (est) 1,172,025   476,883   695,141 216,156 955,869
Jul (est) 1,175,213   478,117   697,096 217,662 957,551
Aug (est) 1,171,067   476,593   694,474 214,553 956,515
Sept (est) 1,169,351   475,985   693,367 212,954 956,398
Oct (est) 1,171,849   476,981   694,868 213,697 958,152