The U.S. economy has begun to show signs of slight stagnation in August; however, most readings continue to remain strong. The employment figures, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the labor market found room to expand, despite being historically tight. The U.S. added 201,000 jobs in August, up 28.0% from July, and maintained the unemployment rate at 3.9%. Furthermore, wages grew at 2.9%, their fastest annualized rate since before the Great Recession
Despite this, consumer expenditures on big-ticket items have begun to plateau. Housing starts were up 0.8% for July, from a revised 1.158 million in June to 1.168 million. After declining in July, auto sales were up slightly again in August, with a majority of the sales continuing to go to SUVs and larger vehicles.
Retail sales fell in July for the second straight month, figures released in August show. Unadjusted retail sales were a reported $507.6 billion in July, down slightly from $510.9 billion in June. However, as announced in mid-August, the Consumer Price Index stayed flat in July at 2.9%, up one-tenth of a percentage point from May’s reading of 2.8%.
Major stock indices also rose in August, with the Nasdaq closing up 5.7% and the S&P 500 up 3.0%.
The highlights from our weekly economic updates during August 2018 included: