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Port Getty Images 968819844 Thitivong 1025
Port Getty Images 968819844 Thitivong 1025
Port Getty Images 968819844 Thitivong 1025
Port Getty Images 968819844 Thitivong 1025
Port Getty Images 968819844 Thitivong 1025

Electrical Marketing's Key Economic Indicators - Feb. 24, 2023 Update

Feb. 23, 2023
Single-family building permits slide in January

Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,339,000, +0.1% above the revised December rate of 1,337,000, but -27.3% below the January 2022 rate of 1,841,000. The U.S. Census Bureau said single‐family authorizations in January were at a rate of 718,000, -1.8% below the revised December figure of 731,000.

Rail shipments off to a slow start in 2023

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 473,972 carloads and intermodal units, down -6.2% compared with the same week last year, according to the American Association of Railroads (AAR). Freight rail traffic is a leading indicator of economic activity. For the first six weeks of 2023, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 1,373,778 carloads, up +1% from the same point last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first six weeks of 2023 was 2,767,182 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of -3.6% compared to last year.

Conference Board’s leading indicators remain bearish

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. fell by -0.3% in January 2023 to 110.3 (2016=100), following a decline of -0.8% in December. The LEI is now down -3.6% over the six-month period between July 2022 and January 2023 — a steeper rate of decline than its -2.4% contraction over the previous six-month period (Jan. 2022–July 2022).

“The US LEI remained on a downward trajectory, but its rate of decline moderated slightly in January,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director - Economics, at the Conference Board, in the press release. “Among the leading indicators, deteriorating manufacturing new orders, consumers’ expectations of business conditions, and credit conditions more than offset strengths in labor markets and stock prices to drive the index lower in the month. The contribution of the yield spread component of the LEI also turned negative in the last two months, which is often a signal of recession to come. While the LEI continues to signal recession in the near term, indicators related to the labor market— including employment and personal income — remain robust so far."