Restaurant Performance Index Slows In July

The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) is a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and the outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry.

The RPI stood at 101.0 in July, down from 101.3 in June. The above-100 reading indicates economic expansion in the restaurant sector, but at a slower pace. This is the 17th consecutive month the index has been in expansion.

The Current Situation Index stood at 100.7, down from 101.3, and was its 5th consecutive month in expansion. The Expectations Index stood at 101.2, down from 101.7, and was in expansion for the 21st consecutive month.

Restaurant Performance

Vehicle Miles Driven Increase 1.4% In June

Total miles traveled on all roads and streets were an estimated 261.7 billion miles in June, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports. This is a 1.4% increase from the 258.0 billion miles traveled in June of 2013.

Miles Driven Change

The rolling 12 month total of vehicle miles driven is 2.973 trillion miles. That is 2.2% below the high of 3.039 trillion miles in November of 2007.

Miles Driven Peak

Miles Driven Long

The map from the release shows that, year over year, travel increased in all five U.S. regions in June.

Miles Driven Map

Construction Spending Increases 1.8% In July

Total U.S. construction spending during July was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $981.3 billion. That is 1.8% above the revised June estimate, and 8.2% above the July 2013 estimate.

Construction Spending

Construction Spending Annual Change

Private residential construction spending was at an annual rate of $358.1 billion, which is 0.7% above the prior month and 8.0% above the same month a year ago.

Private nonresidential construction was at an annual rate of $343.6 billion, which is 2.1% above the prior month and 14.1% above the same month a year ago.

Public construction spending was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $279.7 billion, which is 3.0% above the prior month and 2.1% above the same month a year ago.

Construction Spending Components

Construction Spending Components Annual Rate

August Consumer Confidence

U.S. consumer confidence increased to a reading of 92.4 (1985=100) in August, as published this morning by The Conference Board. This compares to a revised reading of 90.3 in July, and is the highest consumer confidence has been since October 2007.

The Present Situation Index component increased to 94.6 from 89.7, while the Expectations Index component decreased to 90.9 from 91.9.

Says Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board: “Consumer confidence increased for the fourth consecutive month as improving business conditions and robust job growth helped boost consumers’ spirits. Looking ahead, consumers were marginally less optimistic about the short-term outlook compared to July, primarily due to concerns about their earnings. Overall, however, they remain quite positive about the short-term outlooks for the economy and labor market.”

CB Confidence

The U.S. consumer sentiment index, reported by the University of Michigan, decreased to 79.2 in August from 81.8 in July.

Michigan Sentiment

The Conference Board’s index has been trending upwards in 2014 while the University of Michigan’s index has been relatively flat.

Consumer Confidence

House Prices Tick Up In June

S&P Case-Shiller Home Prices increased in June, with the 10-City composite and 20-city composite indices both ticking up 1.0% (not seasonally adjusted).

Year over year, the 20-City Composite is up 8.1%. This is a rapid growth rate, but is considerably lower than the 9.4% Y/Y rate in May and the 13.6% Y/Y rate in October 2013.


The national house price level is now roughly equal to where it stood in October 2004.

National Index

Of the 20 cities tracked in the index, Los Angeles has had the greatest increase in home prices since 2000, while Detroit has been the only city where prices have declined over the past 14 years.

Case-Shiller Cities 100

From a year ago, house prices have increased the most in Las Vegas, where they rose 15.2%. Cleveland has had the slowest rate of annual increase, rising only 0.8%.

Case-Shiller Cities Annual Change

Dallas and Denver are the only cities whose prices have increased beyond their pre-recession peak. Las Vegas remains the furthest below its peak.

Case-Shiller Table

The U.S.Federal Housing Finance Agency also released its June House Price Index figures today. They saw national house prices increasing 0.4% in June (not seasonally adjusted), and increasing 5.1% from a year ago.

The FHFA HPI is calculated using home sales price information from mortgages either sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

FHFA Change

The U.S. index is 6.4% below its April 2007 peak and is roughly the same as its July 2005 index level.

FHFA Index Level

The FHFA tracks 9 different geographic census divisions.

Census Dividions

In both the Case-Shiller index and the FHFA index house prices continue to increase, but the pace is slowing.

Highway Spending And Federal Stimulus


Highway spending in the United States between 2008 and 2011 was flat, despite the serious need for improvements and the big boost to state highway funds from the Recovery Act of 2009. A comparison of how much different states received and spent shows that these federal grants actually boosted highway spending substantially. However, this was offset by pressures to reduce state highway spending due to plummeting tax revenues. In fact, analysis suggests national highway spending would have fallen roughly 20% over this period without federal highway grants from the Recovery Act.

San Francisco Fed - Fueling Road Spending with Federal Stimulus

New Home Sales At Annual Rate Of 412k In July

New home sales in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 412k. That is down 2.4% from June’s revised rate of 422k. The national rate of new home sales in July is up 12.3% from a year ago.

New Home Sales Change

New Home Sales

New home sales, seasonally adjusted, decreased in 3 out of 4 U.S. regions in July:

  • Northeast: SAAR of 18k from 26k last month.
  • Midwest: SAAR of 52k from 57k last month.
  • South: SAAR of 253k from 234k last month.
  • West: SAAR of 89k from 105k last month.

New Home Sales Regions

The median sales price of new houses sold in July was $269.8k, down from $280.1k in June.

Change Median Sales Price

Median Sales Price

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 205k. This represents a supply of 6.0 months at the current sales rate.

New Home Sales Supply