Categories are graded from A thru F:
Economic Growth: D+
Spending remains high and income improved, but the unemployment level remains very high. Overall economic growth improved slightly this month, and the results for our economic growth metrics were generally positive. The revised fourth quarter GDP growth rate increased to 5.6%. The pace of job losses eased this month, and the number of mass layoff events is plummeting, but employment has still declined 1.7% year over year.
The unemployment rate was flat this month at 9.7%, but the broader measure of unemployment, the U-6, increased to 16.9%. The length of unemployment in the labor force increased to 31.2 weeks this month, reaching a record high level since the BLS began tracking the statistic in 1948. Personal income improved and has returned to positive year-over-year growth for the second time since December 2008, increasing by 2.0%. The CPI (all items) increased to 2.3% from one year ago, while the Core CPI (minus food and energy) dropped to 1.1%.
Leading Indicators: C+
Overall leading indicators held relatively steady this month, but several individual metrics actually improved. The Leading Economic Index has increased for the past eleven consecutive months. The ECRI Leading Index – an indicator of future U.S. growth – increased 13.9% year-over-year, and has experienced positive year-over-year growth for the past 10 months. Stocks improved once again in March, and all four major indices have now experienced large positive year-over-year growth, ranging from +43% to +57%.