U.S. Employment Costs Rise 2.3% Y/Y

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment cost index for total compensation of all civilian workers in the fourth quarter of 2014 was up 2.33% from the same period the year prior. This growth rate is slightly higher than the 2.26% annual growth rate in the third quarter.

Compensation for private industry workers was up 2.34% annually in Q4, while state and local government worker compensation rose 2.13%.

Employment Costs

U.S. Q4 GDP Growth At 2.6%

Real gross domestic product increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter, the U.S. BEA published this morning. This was the first estimate for Q4, and is down from the 5.0% growth rate in Q3.

Components of GDP by their contributions to GDP growth in Q43:

  • Personal consumption expenditures: +2.87%
  • Private investment: +1.20%
  • Net Exports: -1.02%
  • Government Consumption: -0.40%

GDP Components

Nominal GDP was at an annualized $17.7107 trillion in Q4, while real (inflation adjusted, 2009 chained) GDP was $16.3116 trillion.

GDP Nominal

Real GDP is up 2.5% from Q4 2013.

GDP Annual

Falling Vacancy And Homeownership Again In Q4

The U.S. rental vacancy rate, which is the percentage of rental homes that are vacant, declined in the fourth quarter to 7.0%. Rental vacancy reached a peak of 11.1% in the third quarter of 2009. It is currently highest in the South at 9.0% and lowest in the West at 4.8%.

Rental Vacancy

The homeowner vacancy rate increased to 1.9% from 1.8%. It peaked at 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2008. Currently, homeowner vacancy is highest in the South at 2.2% and lowest in the West at 1.4%.

Homeowner Vacancy

The homeownership rate dropped to 64.0% from 64.4% in the third quarter. Homeownership peaked back in the fourth quarter of 2004 at 69.2%, and has been in steady decline ever since.


Weekly Initial Jobless Claims At 265k

Initial jobless claims for the week ending January 24 were a seasonally adjusted 265k, up from the prior week’s revised reading of 308k. Not seasonally adjusted, jobless claims for the week were 280k.

Jobless Claims

Individual states that had changes in claims of more than 1k (not seasonally adjusted):


The 4-week moving average of initial jobless claims was 297k.

Jobless Claims 4W

The number of unemployment insurance recipients, or continuing claims, for regular state programs was 2.385 million, down from the previous week’s revised reading of 2.456 million.

UI Recipients

The insured unemployment rate, which is the number of unemployment insurance recipients as a share of covered employment, was 1.79%, down from 1.84% the week prior.

Insured Unemployment Rate

90.47% of all U.S. jobs are covered by state unemployment insurance programs.

Covered Employment

Of the 8.687 million Americans currently unemployed, 27.45% receive unemployment insurance.

UI Recipients Share

Jobless claims and the unemployment rate:

Labor Market

U.S. House Prices In November 2014

S&P Case-Shiller Home Prices declined in November, with the 20-city composite index decreasing by 0.2% (not seasonally adjusted). Year over year, the 20-City Composite is up 4.3%. This is a slower annual rate of growth than the 4.5% in October and the 13.7% rate in November 2013.

Case-Shiller Change

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

Case-Shiller 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 15 years.

Case-Shiller Cities

From a year ago, house prices have increased the most in Las Vegas, where they rose 7.7%. Cleveland has had the slowest rate of annual increase, rising only 0.6%.

Case-Shiller Cities 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 saw its national house prices increase 0.8% in November (not seasonally adjusted), and increasing 5.3% 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 4.5% below its March 2007 peak and is roughly the same as its Octoberr 2005 index level.

FHFA Index

Of the 9 different geographic census divisions that FHFA tracks, house prices have increased the most year over year in the Pacific and increased the least in the New England region.

FHFA Divisions

New Home Sales At Annual Rate Of 481k In December

U.S. new home sales in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481k. That is up 11.6% from December’s revised rate of 431k. The national rate of new home sales in December is up 8.8% from a year ago.

New Home Sales Change

Net Home Sales

New home sales by region, seasonally adjusted annual rate, in December:

  • Northeast: 43k from 28k last month.
  • Midwest: 54k from 61k last month.
  • South: 253k from 215k last month.
  • West: 131k from 127k last month.

New Home Sales Regions

The median sales price of new houses sold in December was $298.1k, down from $291.6k in November.

Change in Median Price

Median Price

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 219k. This represents a supply of 5.5 months at the current sales rate.

Months Supply

New and existing home sales:

Annual Rate Split