The US economy appears to be making a more robust comeback than expected, as retail spending, employment, and manufacturing all post strong gains.
Thursday’s onslaught of data showed that the US economy is faring a lot better than previously anticipated, as numerous sectors have returned to, or exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The rebound in demand was attributed to business openings across the country in March, the rapid vaccine rollout, and the $1,400 stimulus checks distributed to qualifying individuals.
Retail sales rose by 9.8% in March, marking the second-highest jump on records dating back to 1992. All 13 categories posted gains that exceeded February 2020 pre-pandemic levels, with the exception of restaurants. Receipts at restaurants increased by 13.4% last month, while apparel retail sales rose by 18.3%. Sales at gas stations grew 10.9%, largely due to higher fuel prices. Despite the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, sales at car and motor vehicle parts dealers jumped by 15.1%.
Thursday was also a big day for US economy in terms of the manufacturing sector, as the index for current manufacturing activity increased from a revised print of 44.5 to 50.2 in April— the highest reading in almost 50 years. Nearly 59% of the survey’s respondents reported higher activity levels this month, with only 8% reporting declines.
In the meantime, initial jobless claims declined from 769,000 to 576,000 for the week ending on April 10. Although still significantly elevated relative to pre-pandemic levels, first-time applications for unemployment benefits have hit their lowest in 13 months.
Although the federal government’s stimulus payments provided a significant boost in spending, their long-term impact is unknown. Economic data over the next several months will determine whether or not there was momentous job growth, and if consumer confidence continues to remain elevated.
Information for this briefing was found via the DOL, Philadelphia Fed, and the US Census Bureau. Thee author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.