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Author Archives: Mark Lieberman

Mark Lieberman is the former Senior Economist at Fox Business Network. He is now Managing Director and Senior Economist at Economics Analytics Research. He can be heard each Friday on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM Radio 124.

Unemployment Rate Dips to 7.3% in August

The nation's economy added 169,000 jobs in August as the unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent, the lowest level since December 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Economists had forecast payrolls would grow by 180,000 and the unemployment rate would remain at July's 7.4 percent. Payroll growth for July, originally reported at 162,000 was revised down 58,000 to 104,000. June payroll growth was also revised downward from 188,000 to 172,000.

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Beige Book Again Sees Modest-to-Moderate Growth

Continuing to shrug off sequester cutbacks, but feeling the effects of adverse weather, the nation's economy ""continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace"" from early July through late August, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday in its Beige Book assessment. Echoing--or perhaps anticipating--governors' concerns at the upcoming policy meeting, the Beige Book said ""hiring held steady or increased modestly"" while ""upward price pressures remained subdued, and prices increased slightly.""

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Commentary: A Question of Character

At the end of the classic ""Miracle on 34th Street,"" Fred Gailey—fresh from proving department store Santa Kris Kringle is the Santa Claus—muses aloud, ""Maybe I didn't do such a wonderful thing after all"" when (spoiler alert) he spots Kringle's cane in a vacant, for-sale house his soon-to-be stepdaughter Susie has dreamed of. Perhaps critics of sequester may not have been doing such a ""wonderful thing"" when they argued that across-the-board cuts would have a crippling effect on the nation's economy because of the importance of government spending's ripple effect. Those critics, of course, had statistics on their side.

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Slow Wage Growth Holds Back Income in July

Consumers kept their cash--and credit cards--in their wallets in July as personal spending rose just 0.1 percent, while income increased 0.2 percent, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Friday. Economists had expected income to grow 0.2 percent but thought spending would increase 0.3 percent.

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Unexpected Strength in Revised Q2 GDP

Shrugging off cutbacks in government spending, the nation’s economy grew in the second quarter at a faster pace than originally reported, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday. Second quarter growth was calculated at a seasonally adjusted annual 2.5 percent rate, a sharp increase from the 1.7 percent initially reported for gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of the nation's economy, a month ago. The stronger growth suggests a recovery on track, though the growth rate is shy of the 3 percent trend rate, a threshold generally considered necessary to expand payrolls.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Higher Than Expected

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending August 24 dipped 6,000 to 331,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to fall to 330,000 from the 336,000 originally reported for the week ended August 17. The number of filings for that week was bumped up to 337,000.

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July Pending Home Sales in Steepest Drop So Far This Year

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) slipped 1.3 percent in July, the steepest decline this year, to 109.5, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Economists had expected the index for July would drop to 109.8, which would have been a 1.0 percent decline from June's 110.9. The June index was unchanged. NAR economist Lawrence Yun cited higher prices as affecting new contracts. ""Higher mortgage interest rates and rising home prices are impacting monthly contract activity in the high-cost regions of the Northeast and the West,"" Yun offered as an explanation for the drop in the PHSI.

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Case-Shiller Nears Five-Year High

Home prices rose again to their highest levels since September 2008 in June, increasing 2.2 percent, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday. The 20-city index was up 12.1 percent from a year earlier, and the companion 10-city index was up 11.9 percent. Case-Shiller's national index, reported quarterly by Standard & Poor's, was up 7.1 percent in the second quarter to 146.32, its highest level since third quarter 2008. All 20 cities included in the survey improved both month-to-month and year-to-year. The two surveys have improved monthly and yearly for 13 consecutive months.

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July New Home Sales Plunge to 9-Month Low

Despite improving builder confidence, sales of new single-family homes dropped to their lowest level since last October, the Census Bureau and HUD reported Friday. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales dropped a stunning 13.4 percent to 394,000 in July. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected June sales to drop to 487,000 from June's originally reported 497,000. June sales were revised to 455,000.

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First-Time Jobless Claims Hold at Pre-Recession Low

First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending August 17 rose 13,000 to 336,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists expected the number of claims to rise to 330,000 from the 320,000 originally reported for the week ending August 10. The number of filings for that week was bumped up to 323,000.

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