March 18, 2019
State Chamber Update
Our Spring Legislative Brunch & Manufacturing Conference is tomorrow and with that in mind, I want to share a few key economic and employment related data points the National Association of Manufacturers forwarded to me this morning:

  • Nonfarm job openings reached another new all-time high in January, with 7,581,000 postings for the month. In addition, there were more job openings in the U.S. economy than the number of people looking for work (6,535,000 in January and 6,235,000 in February) for the 12th straight month.
  • Moreover, there were 3,490,000 quits in the U.S. economy—also a record level—which likely suggests that Americans are switching jobs in light of the tight labor market. This has been a large factor in explaining why manufacturers continue to report difficulties in finding talent as their top concern.
  • Job openings in the manufacturing sector rose from 435,000 in January to 452,000 in February, with increased activity for both durable and nondurable goods firms. With that said, the pace of job postings has pulled back somewhat from 501,000 in December, which matched the record high in August. Still, over the past 12 months, manufacturing job openings have been a solid 467,000 each month.
  • There was mixed news on the consumer front last week. On the positive side, confidence rebounded for the second straight month, with Americans more upbeat in their income prospects. At the same time, retail spending remained somewhat disappointing despite edging higher in January. Nonetheless, retail sales have risen a modest 2.3 percent over the past 12 months, and I would expect further strengthening of spending in the coming months.
  • Consumer and producer prices rose slightly in February, but overall, core inflation continues to reflect some deceleration in pricing pressures in recent months. That moderation in price growth should provide some flexibility to the Federal Reserve, allowing it to pause on future rate hikes until it sees stronger economic conditions warrant further actions.
News You Can Use
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will host a 2:30 p.m. press conference that will offer insight into the economy (inflation, borrowing rates, etc.). Thursday we’ll see leading economic indicator data for February, and on Friday we will learn of existing home sales figures for February.  
Michael J. Quaranta
Delaware State Chamber of Commerce
DEMEP is the presenting sponsor of the 2019 Legislative Brunch & Manufacturing Conference being held tomorrow, March 19. DEMEP is a federally and state funded nonprofit organization committed to helping Delaware’s manufacturers improve their global competitiveness. 
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