Economic Digest: Jobs Growth And Consumer Confidence Wane, Gas Prices Plateau

Two of the key general economic indicators that drive foodservice sales and thus foodservice equipment and supplies sales, were reported softer last week, but it appears the nearly two-month run-up in gasoline prices has plateaued.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a slowdown in jobs growth in April. Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 160,000, a figure many economists considered disappointing. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5%. For the first four months of 2016, monthly jobs growth has averaged a seasonally adjusted 192,000, compared with 229,000 average monthly growth in 2015. Jobs growth in leisure and hospitality was 22,000, the slowest so far this year.
  • Both leading measures of consumer confidence fell slightly in final April readings. The University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers’ Consumer Sentiment Index fell to 89 in April from 91 in March. The index stands 7.2% below the April 2015 reading. Yhe Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell to 94.4 in April down from 96.1 in March. Expectations Indexes for both research groups also fell.
  • On a positive note, gasoline prices have stabilized after increases for most of the past two months. The average national price of a gallon of regular gasoline fell more than two cents to $2.209 on Monday, May 9. Wholesale gasoline and crude oil prices have been trending down the past couple of weeks and most of the seasonal refinery conversion and maintenance has now been completed. Average gasoline prices are running 45 cents below this time last year.

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