Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter and Annual 2018 (Initial Estimate)

Real gross domestic product (GDP) Feb 28th, increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the “initial” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.4 percent.

Due to the recent partial government shutdown, this initial report for the fourth quarter and annual GDP for 2018 replaces the release of the “advance” estimate originally scheduled for January 30th and the “second” estimate originally scheduled for February 28th.

The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-quarter initial estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency. Updated estimates for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on March 28, 2019.

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Those were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter reflected decelerations in private inventory investment, PCE, and federal government spending and a downturn in state and local government spending. These movements were partly offset by an upturn in exports and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports increased less in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter.

Current dollar GDP increased 4.6 percent, or $233.2 billion, in the fourth quarter to a level of $20.89 trillion. In the third quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 4.9 percent, or $246.3 billion.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent in the third quarter. The PCE price index increased 1.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

Personal Income

Current-dollar personal incomeincreased $225.1 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $190.6 billion in the third quarter. The acceleration in personal income reflected an upturn in farm proprietors’ income and accelerations in personal dividend income and personal interest income. Compensation of employees decelerated.

Disposable personal income increased $218.7 billion, or 5.7 percent, in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $160.9 billion, or 4.2 percent, in the third quarter. Real disposable personal income increased 4.2 percent, compared with an increase of 2.6 percent.

Personal saving was $1.06 trillion in the fourth quarter, compared with $996.0 billion in the third quarter. The personal saving rate — personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income — was 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 6.4 percent in the third quarter.

Updates to third quarter GDI

For the third quarter of 2018, the percent change in real GDI was revised from 4.3 percent to 4.6 percent based on newly available tabulations from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program.

2018 GDP

Real GDP increased 2.9 percent in 2018 (from the 2017 annual level to the 2018 annual level), compared with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2017.

The increase in real GDP in 2018 primarily reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending that were slightly offset by a small negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration in real GDP from 2017 to 2018 primarily reflected accelerations in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, federal government spending, exports, and PCE, and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a downturn in residential investment.

Current-dollar GDP increased 5.2 percent, or $1.02 trillion, in 2018 to a level of $20.50 trillion, compared with an increase of 4.2 percent, or $778.2 billion, in 2017.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2 percent in 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent in 2017. The PCE price index increased 2.0 percent, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.9 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

During 2018 (measured from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018), real GDP increased 3.1 percent, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent during 2017. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.1 percent during 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent during 2017.

Amazon is acquiring home Wi-Fi start-up Eero

CNBC.com reported, Amazon said on Monday that it’s acquiring Eero, a developer of internet routers that can be easily connected in the home. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

It’s Amazon’s latest push into the smart home, following the acquisition of video doorbell maker Ring last year for $1 billion. Amazon’s primary home device is its own Echo smart speaker, powered by Alexa.

In the router market, Google has a competing product called Google Wifi. Apple discontinued AirPort home routers last year, and Cisco sold Linksys to Belkin in 2013. Netgear stock was down as much as 5 percent after hours following the announcement.

Eero, based in San Francisco, was founded in 2014 by Nick Weaver, Amos Schallich and Nate Hardison with the goal of making Wi-Fi simple to use, easy to install and effective across many rooms in a house. In 2015, the start-up sold $2.5 million worth of products in its first two weeks after the company began accepting preorders, CNBC reported earlier.

“We have a shared vision that the smart home experience can get even easier, and we’re committed to continue innovating on behalf of customers,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon devices and services, said in a statement.

A single Eero device costs $199 and covers up to 1,500 square feet. Users can add a so-called beacon for another room for an additional $149 or can buy both combined for $299. The company also sells a security service for $99 a year.

“You have to be able to react quickly to customers, and at the same time, you have to think far enough ahead to think about what the hardware needs to do in the future,” Weaver said in a 2016 interview. A graduate of Stanford University and former venture capitalist, Weaver has been fixing home networking systems since he was 10.

More than 150 people are listed as Eero employees on LinkedIn. The company raised at least $90 million from investors including Index Ventures, Playground Global and Redpoint Ventures. Eero laid off one-fifth of its employees last year, TechCrunch reported.

Amazon previously dabbled in the Wi-Fi market as an investor. In 2016, the company backed a start-up called Luma as part of a $12.5 million round. Luma, which also raised money from GV (formerly Google Ventures), was acquired last year by First Alert, a unit of Newell Brands.

U.S. employers added 304,000 jobs in January, soaring past expectations

Treasury yields jumped on Friday after the Labor Department said the American economy added more than 300,000 jobs and more people entered the workforce in the month of January.

U.S. employers added 304,000 jobs in January, soaring past Wall Street’s expectations for an increase of 165,000 jobs, seemingly brushing off a 35-day government shutdown as investors braced for mixed results. It was the 100 straight month of gains.

The unemployment rate climbed to 4 percent from 3.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate rose slightly to 63.2 percent. Average hourly earnings, meanwhile, rose by 3 cents to $27.56. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by a total of 85 cents, or about 3.2 percent.

The report is also indicative that despite recent geopolitical turmoil — US-China trade tensions and uncertainty over the Brexit deal in Europe — the U.S. economy will manage to shake off any market volatility, according to Josh Wright, the chief economist for iCIMS and a former Federal Reserve staffer.

Wright, however, warned that the better-than-expected number could complicate the dovish narrative the Fed is currently pushing.

On Wednesday, policymakers at the U.S. central bank unanimously voted to keep the benchmark federal funds rate unchanged, while signaling a patient approach to future interest rate hikes.

“We still see sustained expansion of ecnomic activity, strong labor conditions and inflation near 2 percent,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said at the time. “But the crosscurrents suggest a less favorable outlook.”

But the blowout jobs number could convince the Fed to reverse course before the end of the year, according to Wright.

“As the shutdown fades into the past (and if another one doesn’t do more damage), the Fed will lose one of its arguments for pausing, leaving it to rely on global headwinds, trade and Brexit uncertainty,” he said. “Financial conditions have already improved considerably. It’s going to be a rocky quarter or two for the U.S. central bank, with a lot of risk to its credibility. Yet if markets find the Fed credible, implied interest-rate volatility should be restrained.”

Jobs numbers follow a report released on Wednesday from payroll processing firm ADP, which revealed the private sector added 213,000 jobs in December, beating analysts’ expectations of 178,000 jobs.

Analysts anticipated that unemployment would hold steady at 3.9 percent, one of the lowest numbers in nearly 50 years, while forecasting the creation of 165,000 jobs, according to economists polled by Refinitiv (formerly Thomson Reuters). In December, job creation was revised to 222,000, down from the original better-than-expected 312,000.

Initially, the White House was bracing for a potentially negative jobs number in January when the Department of Labor releases the payroll data. However, U.S. labor officials said last week they would count the once-furloughed workers as employed because they’re getting paid retroactively once the government is up and running again.

However, the job creation was not coupled with robust wage growth; average hourly earnings rose just three cents on the month, or 0.1 percent, well below the 0.3 percent expected gain. Yields also jumped after the Institute for Supply Manufacturing said activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in January.

The short-term 2-year rate rose 5 basis points to 2.504 percent. The yield on the long-term 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.677 percent at 10:12 a.m. ET. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

The United States Signs a Stronger Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada

REBALANCING OUR TRADE RELATIONSHIP: President Donald J. Trump kept his promise to deliver a modern and rebalanced trade deal to replace NAFTA.

  • Today in Argentina, the United States is joining Canada and Mexico to sign a new trade agreement that will better serve the interests of American workers and businesses.
    • This follows the President’s announcement in October that a deal had been reached.
  • The new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) will replace the outdated, failed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • With the signing of this agreement, President Trump has delivered on his promise to renegotiate NAFTA and protect American farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers.

SECURING A STRONGER DEAL FOR AMERICAN INDUSTRIES AND WORKERS: USMCA is a stronger deal for American farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers.

  • USMCA will help incentivize billions of dollars in additional vehicle and auto parts production in the United States.
  • The agreement includes updated rules of origin that require 75 percent of auto content to be produced in North America.
  • American autoworkers will benefit from rules that incentivize the use of high-wage manufacturing labor in the auto sector.
    • This includes a requirement that 40-45% of a vehicle consist of content manufactured by North American workers making at least $16 per hour.
  • USMCA’s labor and environment chapters are fully enforceable and represent the strongest labor and environmental provisions of any trade agreement ever negotiated.
    • Mexico agreed to historic labor reforms to provide for genuine collective bargaining.
    • The agreement prohibits the importation of goods produced by forced labor.
  • The agreement includes provisions that allow agriculture products to be traded more fairly.
    • Canada will end its “Class 6” and “Class 7” programs that allow low-priced dairy products to undersell American dairy producers.
    • Canada will increase market access for United States dairy products, eggs, and poultry.

REFORMING TRADE FOR THE 21st CENTURY: USMCA modernizes our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico to reflect the realities of the 21st century. 

  • The new agreement includes a modernized chapter that provides stronger and more comprehensive intellectual property protections than any prior United States trade agreement.
    • These protections are vital to promoting innovation and economic growth.
    • USMCA includes robust copyright protection, 10 years of data protection for biologic drugs, and new protections against the theft of trade secrets.
  • USMCA includes the strongest digital trade and financial services provisions of any United States trade agreement.
    • New rules ensure that data can be transferred cross-border and that limits on where data can be stored are minimized.
  • USMCA will cut red tape at the border, streamline trade, and reduce regulatory uncertainty.
  • The agreement includes a currency chapter that will help reinforce transparency and stability.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Announces Henry Childs, II as National Director of the Minority Business Development Agency

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that Henry Childs, II will be the new National Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). Mr. Childs will be the 17th National Director of the agency.

Established by an Executive Order in 1969, MBDA is the only Federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of U.S. minority-owned businesses.

“Mr. Childs’ commitment to economic development in minority communities is an unrivaled asset to the Department of Commerce,” said Secretary Ross. “In his new role, I fully expect him to continue to vigorously pursue opportunities and growth for minorities as well as the country as a whole.”

In addition to his appointment as the National Director of MBDA, Mr. Childs serves as the Policy Advisor to the White House’s Office of Public Liaison where he leads the Administration’s outreach to the African American community. He also works closely with the Office of American Innovation on economic development issues for urban areas and urban revitalization.

“I am honored to be selected by Secretary Ross to lead the Minority Business Development Agency”, said Mr. Childs. “I look forward to working with the dedicated team at MBDA as we blaze the agency’s path into the future.”

Prior to his appointment as the National Director of MBDA, Mr. Childs served as the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Initiatives for the U.S. Department of Commerce.

As Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Initiatives, he provided counsel on economic development and fostered partnerships with other federal agencies as well as national and international organizations. Mr. Childs also oversees the Department of Commerce’s $1 billion in supplemental Congressional funds for disaster recovery and readiness grants after the natural disasters of 2017.

313,000 New Jobs in February, Job Growth Strongest Since President Trump’s Election

The U.S. economy added 313,000 new jobs in the month of February, according to the February 2018 Employment Situation report published today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More from the Department of Labor:

“Job growth was the strongest since President Trump’s election, with 313,000 jobs created in the month of February. The non-stop job creation since the election has yielded 2.9 million jobs. For the fifth month in a row, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, a 17-year low. Goods-producing industries such as manufacturing, mining and logging, and construction collectively had the highest month-to-month growth since 1998. These were among many sectors experiencing significant growth.

“President Trump’s tax reform continues to boost economic confidence with more than 400 companies handing out bonuses, raises, or other benefits to more than 4 million Americans. Today’s report shows that average hourly earnings significantly increased in February and have increased by 2.6% over the last year. We saw positive movement in the labor force participation rate, and we would like to see that continue over the coming months.”

In total, 2.92 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy since President Trump was elected – including 263,000 manufacturing jobs since President Trump took office. In addition, the number of long-term unemployed Americans is the lowest since 2008.

Tax Cuts Act a Win for American Business and the American Worker

Photo of White House event celebrating passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Earlier this week, Congress passed the first overhaul of the U.S. tax system in more than three decades. The historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses both large and small. The Act also will make American more competitive, will bolster continued job creation and will help increase wages for American workers.

“President Trump’s tax plan will make our tax code more simple and fair, and help American business stay competitive. Accomplishing these objectives will lead to increased economic growth, and, most importantly, better jobs for the American worker.” – Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

Highlights of the Tax Cuts Act for include:

Bigger paychecks for American workers. The Tax Cuts Act provides $5.5 trillion in tax cuts by nearly doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit, protecting tax savings for higher education and retirement, and lowering rates across the board. It also repeals ObamaCare’s individual mandate tax, 80 percent of which hit households earning less than $50,000 a year in 2016.

Putting American businesses on a level playing field with foreign competitors. America’s corporate tax rate will go from being the highest in the developed world to below the average for Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. A one-time tax on corporate earnings stashed overseas will end the incentive for companies to keep their profits outside of the United States.

Eliminating dozens of special interest tax breaks and loopholes. The Tax Cuts Act will raise $4 trillion in revenue to help offset tax cuts by closing the door on dozens of corporate accounting tricks. The bill eliminates a loophole used to deduct compensation for executives earning more than $1 million a year.