A summary of recent economic indicators as reported by government and independent agencies. Economic indicators can help senior managers gauge future demand for their company’s services so they can predict labor demands and related costs.

First Quarter US GDP. Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — decreased at an annual rate of 0.7% in the first quarter of 2015, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2014, real GDP increased 2.2%.

Beige Book. Reports from the 12 US Federal Reserve Districts suggest overall economic activity expanded during the reporting period from early April to late May. Activity in the Richmond, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco Districts was characterized as growing at a moderate pace, while the New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis Districts cited modest growth. Contacts in the Boston District reported mixed conditions, and the Cleveland and Kansas City Districts indicated a slight pace of expansion. Compared to the previous report, the pace of growth slowed slightly in the Dallas District but held steady in the Atlanta District. Outlooks among respondents were generally optimistic, with growth expected to continue at a modest to moderate pace in several districts.

ISM Report on Business
The Institute for Supply Management surveys supply executives in manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors to gauge the state of the economy.

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in May for the 29th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 72nd consecutive month. Meanwhile, economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in May for the 64th consecutive month.

Employment Cost and Employee Earnings
Compensation costs and employee earnings as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7%, seasonally adjusted, for the three-month period ending March 2015. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70% of compensation costs) increased 0.7%, and benefits (which make up the remaining 30% of compensation) increased 0.6%.

Compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.8%.

Among occupational groups, compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the 12-month period ending March 2015 ranged from 2.3% for natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations and service occupations to 3.4% for sales and office occupations.

Compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the current 12-month period ranged from 1.8% for construction to 6.1% for information.

Real earnings

Real average hourly earnings for all US employees decreased 0.1% from April to May, seasonally adjusted. This result stems from a 0.3% increase in average hourly earnings being more than offset by a 0.4% increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Real average weekly earnings decreased by 0.1% over the month due to the decrease in real average hourly earnings and no change in the average workweek.
However, real average hourly earnings increased by 2.2%, seasonally adjusted, from May 2014 to May 2015.
Productivity and cost

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased at a 3.1% annual rate during the first quarter of 2015, as output declined 1.6% and hours worked increased 1.6%.

The Conference Board
Leading economic indicators by country, as calculated by The Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. The basis of the calculations vary by country, including such factors as employment data, stock price activity and manufacturing orders. 

  • Australia. -0.3% in April to 104.6 (2010=100), following no change in March and an increase of 0.7% in February.
  • Brazil/Fundação Getulio Vargas. Unchanged in May at 90.1 (2010 = 100), following declines of 1.1% in April and 1.0% in March.
  • Euro Area. +0.5% to 105.9 (2010=100) in April, following a 0.7% increase in March and a 0.6% increase in February.
  • France. +0.4 in March to 111.1 (2010=100), following increases of 0.1% in February and 0.2% in January.
  • Germany. +0.2% in April to 109.8 (2010=100), following increases of 0.6% in March and 0.9% in February.
  • India. -1.3% in May to 101.7 (2010 = 100), following a 1.0% increase in April and a 1.1% decline in March.
  • Japan. Unchanged in April at 102.7 (2010=100). This index decreased 0.4% in March and 0.1% in February.
  • Korea. +0.6% in April to 111.0 (2010=100), following a 2.0% increase in March and a 0.6% decline in February.
  • Mexico. Unchanged in April at 115.7 (2010=100) following 0.3% increases in March and February.
  • Spain. + 0.3% in March to 103.1 (2010=100), following increases of 0.6% in February and 0.3% in January.
  • UK. +0.4% in April to 113.6 (2010=100), following increases of 0.3% in March and 0.7% in February.
  • US. + 0.7% in May to 123.1 (2010 = 100), following a 0.7% increase in April, and a 0.4% increase in March.