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Richmond Fed at a Glance

May 2019

National & Regional Economy

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National Economy

  • Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to the advance estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • First quarter real GDP growth reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), net exports, nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and government spending and negative contributions from residential fixed investment.
  • Real PCE growth slowed in the first quarter to 1.2 percent, down from 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, government spending increased at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2019, up from -0.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
  • Exports grew at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the first quarter and imports declined 3.7 percent, leading to a 1.0 percentage point contribution of net exports to real GDP growth.
  • Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), picked up to a 12-month change of 2.0 percent in April, up from 1.9 percent in March. Meanwhile, year-over-year growth in core CPI, which excludes food and energy, edged up 0.1 percentage point in April to 2.1 percent.
  • Total payroll employment rose 0.2 percent in April as 263,000 net new jobs were added to the economy in the month. Since April 2018, payroll employment increased 1.8 percent. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate declined 0.2 percentage point to 3.6 percent in the month and the labor force participation rate edged lower to 62.8 percent.

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Regional Economy

  • Our most recent surveys suggested moderation in the manufacturing sector and robust growth in the service sector in the Fifth District in April. The manufacturing composite diffusion index registered a value of 3 in April while in the service sector the overall revenues index rose to 26. Survey results suggested continued employment growth in both sectors.
  • Employment rose 0.1 percent (17,500 jobs) in the Fifth District in March as jobs were added in all jurisdictions except South Carolina where 2,100 jobs were lost, on net. Virginia gained the most jobs with an increase of 8,000 jobs (0.2 percent), and the District of Columbia also saw a 0.2 percent increase in employment (1,200 jobs).
  • Since March 2018, employment grew 1.1 percent (168,100 jobs) in the Fifth District, trailing the national rate of 1.7 percent in the same month. Employment rose in every jurisdiction, on a year-over-year basis, with North Carolina adding the most jobs (62,900 jobs or 1.4 percent) over the year and West Virginia seeing the highest percentage increase at 2.7 percent (19,200 jobs).
  • The unemployment rate in the Fifth District remained at 3.6 percent in March, coming in below the national rate of 3.8 percent for that same month. Unemployment rates inched up or held steady in March among all District jurisdictions except West Virginia and ranged from 2.9 percent in Virginia to 5.6 percent in D.C.
  • Since February 2018, home prices in the Fifth District grew 3.1 percent, trailing the national increase of 4.0 percent. Home prices increased over the year in every jurisdiction. West Virginia saw the fastest year-over-year home price growth (5.4 percent), while the slowest growth was reported in Maryland (1.7 percent).

Sources: Snapshot, Regional Economy, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CoreLogic

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Laura Fortunato (804) 697-8196 (804) 698-0927 (mobile)