Meanwhile, Back in the Real Economy

Thu, 25 Sep 2008 12:53:22 +0000

The news is not good. A double dose, in fact. First up, weekly unemployment claims:

In the week ending Sept. 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 493,000, an increase of 32,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 461,000. It is estimated that the effects of Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana and the effects of Hurricane Ike in Texas added approximately 50,000 claims to the total. The 4-week moving average was 462,500, an increase of 16,000 from the previous week's revised average of 446,500.

Even the 443,000 without the impacts of the hurricanes is a sign of a very weak labor market. As I've noted before, over the past 20 years, claims haven't gotten this high without going higher.

Next up, Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders:

New orders for manufactured durable goods in August decreased $9.9 billion or 4.5 percent to $208.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This was the largest percent decrease in new orders since January 2008 and followed three consecutive monthly increases including a 0.8 percent July increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 3.0 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 5.0 percent.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods in August, down following two consecutive monthly increases, decreased $7.7 billion or 3.5 percent to $210.1 billion. This was the largest percent decrease in shipments since December 2002 and followed a 2.3 percent July increase.

This is the advance report -- we'll get preliminary data late next week. But from what we can see today, the demands for both labor and manufactured goods (capital inputs to production) are weakening.