Total distance traveled by vehicles on all U.S. roads and streets were an estimated 221.1 billion miles in February, the Department of Transportation reports. This is a 2.8% increase from the 215.0 billion miles traveled in February 2014.
The rolling 12 month total of vehicle miles driven was 3.055 trillion miles. As noted previously, January was a milestone as it was the first month that the figure was greater than the prior peak of 3.039 trillion miles driven in November of 2007.
The rolling 12 month total of vehicle miles driven per capita was 12.23 thousand. That is down 7.5% from the June 2005 high of 13.22 thousand miles per capita.
The map from the release shows that, year over year, travel increased in all 5 U.S. regions in February.
U.S. new home sales in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481k. That is down 11.4% from February’s revised rate of 543k. The national rate of new home sales in March was up 19.4% from a year ago.
New home sales by region, seasonally adjusted annual rate, in March:
- Northeast: 20k from 30k last month.
- Midwest: 54k from 51k last month.
- South: 267k from 317k last month.
- West: 140k from 145k last month.
The median sales price of new houses sold in March was $277.4k, down from $281.6k in February.
The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 213k. This represents a supply of 5.3 months at the current sales rate.
New and existing home sales:
U.S. initial jobless claims for the week ending April 18 were a seasonally adjusted 295k, up from the prior week’s revised reading of 294k. Not seasonally adjusted, jobless claims for the week were 279k.
Individual states that had changes in claims of more than 1k (not seasonally adjusted):
The 4-week moving average of initial jobless claims was 285k.
The number of unemployment insurance recipients, or continuing claims, for regular state programs was 2.325 million, up from the previous week’s revised reading of 2.275 million.
The insured unemployment rate, which is the number of unemployment insurance recipients as a share of covered employment, was 1.73%, up from 1.70% the week prior.
90.39% of all U.S. jobs are covered by state unemployment insurance programs.
Of the 8.575 million Americans currently unemployed, 27.11% receive unemployment insurance.
Jobless claims and the unemployment rate:
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 6.1% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 519 million. This annual rate is 10.4% higher than the 4.70 million-unit level in March 2014.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market appears to be off to an encouraging start this spring. “After a quiet start to the year, sales activity picked up greatly throughout the country in March,” he said. “The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years.”
“The modest rise in housing supply at the end of the month despite the strong growth in sales is a welcoming sign,” adds Yun. “For sales to build upon their current pace, homeowners will increasingly need to be confident in their ability to sell their home while having enough time and choices to upgrade or downsize. More listings and new home construction are still needed to tame price growth and provide more opportunity for first-time buyers to enter the market.”
The existing home sales rate decreased in all 4 U.S. regions in March:
- Northeast: 0.62 million from 0.58 million month prior.
- Midwest: 1.20 million from 1.09 million month prior.
- South: 2.19 million from 2.11 million month prior.
- West: 1.18 million from 1.11 million month prior.
Total housing inventory at the end of March increased 5.36% to 2.00 million existing homes available for sale. That represents a 4.6 month supply at the current sales pace.
The median time on market for all homes was 52 days in March. That is down from 62 days in February. Short sales were on the market for a median of 165 days, while foreclosures typically sold in 56 days, and non-distressed homes took 51 days. 40% of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month.
The national median existing home price for all housing types was $212,100, up 7.8% from a year ago.
In March, the unemployment rate decreased in 23 U.S. states, increased in 12 states, and was unchanged in 15 states.
The unemployment rate is higher than a year ago in 3 states: Louisiana (6.6% vs 5.5%), South Carolina (6.7% vs 6.1%), and North Dakota (3.1% vs 2.7%).
Recall that the national jobless rate in March was 5.4%.
The Chicago Fed’s National Activity Index (CFNAI) was a reading of -0.42 in March, down from February’s revised reading of -0.18. The negative figure indicates that the index is below its historical trend. The index’s 3-month moving average is at -0.27.
38 of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in February, while 47 made negative contributions. 37 indicators improved from February to March, while 48 indicators deteriorated. Of the indicators that improved, 14 made negative contributions.
The Production and Income index component registered -0.27 from -0.08 last month. Employment and Hours was -0.03 from +0.11, Personal Consumption and Housing was -0.13 from -0.22, and Sales, Orders, and Inventories was +0.01 from +0.01.
The CFNAI is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity drawn from four broad categories of data: 1) production and income; 2) employment, unemployment, and hours; 3) personal consumption and housing; and 4) sales, orders, and inventories. Each of these data series measures some aspect of overall macroeconomic activity.
It is constructed to have an average value of zero and a standard deviation of one. Since economic activity tends toward trend growth rate over time, a positive index reading corresponds to growth above trend and a negative index reading corresponds to growth below trend.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the last 12 months, the all items index was unchanged.
The core CPI, which excludes food and energy, was up 0.2% in March and is up 1.8% year over year.
The All Food index was down 0.2% in March and is up 2.3% from a year ago. The All Energy index increased 1.1% and is down 18.0% from a year ago.
The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 0.2% in March, seasonally adjusted. The index for final demand decreased 0.8% for the 12 months ended in March.
The core PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.2% and is up 0.9% from a year ago.