US economy: statistics at a glance

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US economy: statistics at a glance

The FT’s one-stop overview of key US economic data and trends, including GDP, inflation, unemployment, consumer indicators, and the outlook for US interest rates and mortgage rates

GDP growth

The US recorded its slowest economic growth in five years in 2016, as poor trade data dragged on the economy in the fourth quarter.

The recovery remains steady, rather than spectacular.

Annualised Q3 2019 GDP growth
2.1%

Growth rates

Size of the economy

Growth per head

Where is the US going?

The US economy is expected to continue growing steadily over the next few years, outpacing many other western countries.

About the nowcast
now-casting.com uses statistical modelling to determine what individual economic data points tell us about the rate of growth. The nowcast chart (right) shows the model’s evolving prediction of GDP growth in the current quarter.

Current Q2 2019 nowcast
2.62%

Prediction for Q2

Markets

Movements in the bond and currency markets are a barometer of investor expectations about a country’s economic prospects.

Since the most recent US election, the bond market has reflected a consensus that the US economy faces an inauspicious future of lacklustre growth and muted inflationary pressures.

Bonds

Euro rate

Dollar strength

Labour market

The strengthening jobs market has been core to the Federal Reserve’s debates on whether to raise interest rates.
As the economy approaches full employment, officials believe wage growth will start getting driven up and that inflation could accelerate above the central bank’s 2 per cent target, arguing for rates to be lifted further.

Unemployment rate in November
3.5%

Non-farm payrolls

Proportion out of work

Pay

Productivity

A measure of how much economic output is generated for a unit of input, rising productivity is seen as one of the only ways to improve living standards, at a time when advanced and some emerging economies are seeing ageing populations and a rapidly increasing retirement rate.

Growth in the US though, along with many other western economies, has been alarmingly slow since the financial crisis.

Across the economy

Per hour

Inflation

The Federal Reserve looks closely at its inflation target of 2 per cent, using it as a metric policymakers must feel ‘reasonably confident’ about before raising interest rates.

Consumer inflation in October
1.8%
Core inflation in October
1.59%

Consumer price inflation

Core inflation

Interest rates

A stronger economy has given the Federal Reserve cover this year to accelerate its pace of interest rate increases. Prior to 2017, the Fed had increased rates only twice over the course of two years.

Federal funds target rate
1.75%
Average 30-yr prime mortgage rate
3.72%

Effective interest rates

Mortgage costs

Consumers

As the labour market has strengthened, so has US consumer spending. Wage growth has remained subdued, however. There are few signs of runaway spending growth, with consumers staying in a cautious mood.

Annual change in retail sales in October
3.1%

Consumer spending

Consumer confidence

Home sales