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Broad Economic Index Shows Healthier US Economy

Dec. 23, 2013

The U.S. economy continued to show signs of improvement in the latest Chicago Fed National Activity Index released today. The index increased to +0.60 in November from -0.07 in October.

The index is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity that represent production and income; employment, unemployment and income; personal consumption and housing; and sales, orders and inventories. All four of these categories grew in November.

Not only was there an increase in November but the three-month moving average tracked by the Chicago Fed also moved up, from +0.12 in October to +0.25 in November. This was the highest reading since February 2012 and, the bank notes, “suggests that growth in national economic activity was above its historical trend.”

Among the data points contributing to the rise in the index:

  • The unemployment rate decreased to 7.0% in November from 7.3% in October.
  • Employment rose by 203,000 in November and 200,000 in October.
  • Industrial production rose 1.1% in November.
  • Manufacturing capacity utilization increased to 76.8% in November from 76.4% in October.
  • Housing starts increased to 1,091,000 in November from 889,000 in October.

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