Total miles traveled on all roads and streets were an estimated 266.8 billion miles in July, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports. This is a 1.5% increase from the 262.8 billion miles traveled in July of 2013.
The rolling 12 month total of vehicle miles driven is 2.976 trillion miles. That is 2.1% below the high of 3.039 trillion miles in November of 2007.
The map from the release shows that, year over year, travel increased in 4 out of 5 U.S. regions in July.
The Federal Reserve published its quarterly Z.1 report yesterday (also known as the Flow of Funds report) which summarizes the balance sheets for U.S. households.
Household net worth increased to $81.5 trillion in the second quarter from $80.1 trillion in the first quarter, and is up 10.4% from last year.
Assets increased to $95.4 trillion from $93.9 trillion and liabilities increased to $13.9 trillion from $13.8 trillion.
Financial assets as a share of total assets increased to 70.3% in Q2 from 70.1% in Q1.
This was driven largely by increases in corporate equities.
Home mortgages as a share of liabilities declined to only 67.2% from a high of 75.0% in 2009.
In August, the unemployment rate decreased in 15 U.S. states, increased in 24 states and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in 11 states.
The unemployment rate is higher than a year ago in only 3 states, Alabama (6.9% vs 6.5%), and Alaska (6.8% vs 6.7%), and West Virginia (6.6% vs 6.5%).
Recall that the national jobless rate in August was 6.1%.
I cannot support the Committee’s planned approach to moving the Fed’s balance sheet toward its normal state, however. In particular, the statement says that the Committee currently does not anticipate selling agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS). I believe this approach unnecessarily prolongs our interference in the allocation of credit. The Fed’s MBS holdings may put downward pressure on mortgage rates, compared to holding an equivalent amount of Treasury securities, but if so, then other borrowers would likely face higher interest rates. While this would favor home mortgage borrowers, it tilts the playing field against other borrowing by consumers.
Richmond Fed President Jeffrey M. Lacker
Privately-owned housing starts in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 956k. This is 14.4% below the revised July estimate of 1.117 million, and is 8.0% above the August 2013 rate of 885k.
Single-family starts decreased to an annual rate of 643k from 659k and multi-unit starts decreased to 313k from 458k.
Initial jobless claims for the week ending September 13 were a seasonally adjusted 280k, down from the prior week’s revised reading of 316k. Not seasonally adjusted, jobless claims for the week were 241k.
The 4-week moving average of initial jobless claims is 300k.
The insured unemployment rate was 1.8%, down from 1.9% the week prior.
The number of unemployment insurance recipients, or continuing claims, for regular state programs was 2.429 million, down from the previous week’s revised reading of 2.492 million.
Individual states that had changes in claims of more than 1k (not seasonally adjusted):
Jobless claims and the unemployment rate:
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.2% in August on a seasonally adjusted basis. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.7%.
The core CPI, which excludes food and energy, was unchanged in August and is also up 1.7% year over year.
The All Food index increased 0.2% in August and is up 2.7% from a year ago. The All Energy index decreased 2.6% and is up 0.4% from a year ago.