EconoFacts

July 30, 2014  - The U.S. Dept. of Commerce says the nation's Growth Domestic Product increased at a rate of four percent in the second quarter of 2014. This comes after a dismal report earlier this year, which showed an economic slowdown that was blamed at least partially on the unusual cold weather. The latest figures also revised the first quarter numbers to a loss of 2.1 percent instead of 2.9.

Meanwhile, economic forecasters at ADP say employers added 218,000 jobs in July; the bulk of those jobs being from within small to medium sized businesses.

July 24, 2014 - Citing its struggles with funding public pension systems, S&P downgraded the State of Illinois's general obligation bond outlook to "Negative" from "Developing." The state's rating remained at "A-." In explaining the downgrade S&P said pension reforms signed into law would be a positive if enacted. The Illinois Supreme Court recently hinted in a seperate ruling that challenges to the reforms' constitutionality before the Court would likely be successful.

July 22, 2014 - Driven primarily by an increase in the cost of fuel, last month's Consumer Price Index moved up by more than two percent compared to June 2013. Fuel prices throughout the Midwest jumped by nearly six percent in just one month while the cost of electricity was up 11 percent as temperatures started to heat up.

The CPI spike kept average earnings flat in June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

July 22, 2014 - Though the number of single-family homes and condominiums sold last month throughout Illinois was virtually the same as it was the year before, the statewide median sale price was up by nearly $10,000, according to the latest figures from the Illinois Association of REALTORS. Nationwide, the number of homes sold went up as did the median price. Illinois's median home sale price of $179,900 lags behind the national average of $223,000.

July 16, 2014 - Powered at least partially by a spike in fuel prices, the cost of U.S. imports were up by 1.2 percentage points in June when compared to the year before. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported the cost of U.S. exports rose just 0.2 percentage points.

July 1, 2014 - Economies in Illinois and its border states showed growth in May, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Similarly, indicators show the St. Louis metropolitan region and the surrounding area, including Metro east and southern Illinois, was under less stress last month.

July 1, 2014 - Tourism spending dropped in the first quarter of 2014 despite increases in personal incomes, says the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

July 1, 2014 - Spending on construction projects remained relatively flat in May, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Receipts in residential projects dropped while spending on all other construction sites was up.

June 24, 2014 - New home sales nationwide were up in May by more than 18 percent compared to April, and nearly 17 percent on the prior year. This comes as building permits for new residential construction dipped as did the number of existing home sales in Illinois as inventory remains low.

June 24, 2014 - Economic growth experienced an uptick in May, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. 

June 17, 2014 - New housing construction projects decreased by more than six percent in May, says the U.S. Census Bureau.

June 17, 2014 - Real earnings were down in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That comes at a bad time as the Bureau also reported increases in the Consumer Price Index led by fuel and electricity prices

May 16, 2014 - Despite there being fewer paying jobs reported, the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security reported the state's unemployment rate is at its lowest point since December 2008. The Department says 35,700 fewer people were classified as being unemployed, which lowered the unemployment rate to 7.9 percent. The same preliminary figures show there were 29,300 more paychecks issued last month than there were a year ago. Most of the newer position were created by professiona and business service employers while manufacturers shed 8,500 jobs.

May 16, 2014 - Average hourly earnings dropped in April, according to measurements taken by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. The Department says that is because of the steady rise of the Consumer Price Index, which may be signaling oncoming inflation. Prices have increased by two percent over the past 12 months in the Midwest. The heaviest of those increases has been in heating fuels, especially natural gas, and utilities.

May 16, 2014 - Major mortgage financer Freddie Mac reported interest rates have dropped for the second consecutive month. Thirty-year fixed rate mortages had an average interest rate of 4.2 percent while 15-year loans dropped to 3.29 percent. This comes at a time when new residential construction projects are starting at a much higher rate than in March or in April 2013.

May 16, 2014 - The price of "good farmland" is slipping in portions of western Illinois, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Landowners near Rock Island, Macomb, and Quincy may have seen their plots decrease in value by nearly 11 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Land in northwestern Illinois may have escaped the dip, and part of eastern and central Illinois lost value in the first quarter but are still up on the year.

May 14, 2014 - Retail and food sales increased by four percent on the year in April, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. Auto sales were up by nearly 10 percent. The figures are relatively similar when compared to March.

Meanwhile, manufacturing and trade sales also posted a nearly four percent gain over 12 months.

May 14, 2014 - U.S. import prices fell by three-tenths of a percent in April compared to a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics. Fuel imports increased by more than a percent, but those gains were offset by non-fuel imports. Although U.S. exports prices remained averaged at mostly the same as last year, agriculture trade increased by more than two percent.

May 8, 2014 - Mortgage rates dropped to their lowest rates since the start of 2014, says Freddie Mac. The mortgage giant says 30-year loans now have an average interest rate of 4.21 percent.

May 6, 2014 - The nation's trade deficit decreased in March after an increase in February. An increase in civilian aircraft and aviation components exports offset the rise of imported communication devices and pharmaceuticals.

May 2, 2014 - Mortgage rates were steady last week as 30-year fixed loans hovered near 4.29 percent, down slightly from the 4.33 percent rate reported on April 24. Similarly, measurements taken by the U.S. Census Bureau show construction spending was up by 8.4 percent in March compared to the year before. That is mostly thanks to large jumps in residential construction projects.

May 2, 2014 - The number of people identified as unemployed dropped by 733,000 and employers reported issuing 288,000 more paychecks in April, says the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics. Both factors lowered the nation's unemployment rate to 6.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau for Economic Analysis reported earlier this week personal incomes had increased by one half of one percent in March, but an increase in personal expenditures was nearly double that amount.

April 30, 2014 - Homeowner vacancy rates hovered around the two percent mark during the first quarter, says the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate has been near that mark for the last two years.

April 30, 2014 - Employment costs in the government and private sector rose by nearly 1.7 percent in March compared to the year before.

April 30, 2014 - The U.S. Gross Domestic Product growth rate leveled off at the start of 2014 after increasing by more than two and one half of a percent in the closing months of 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says. 

April 28, 2014 - Economic growth leveled off somewhat throughout March in the Midwestern United States, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. 

April 24, 2014 - Orders for manufactured goods increased by more than two and one half percent in March, says the U.S. Census Bureau. 

April 23, 2014 - New home sales across the country were way down in March, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures. The rate of sale was down nearly 15 percent compared to February, and by 13.3 percent over the previous 12 months. That said, the Illinois Association of REALTORS reports that even though the number of sales is down because of tight inventory, the median price of Illinois homes went up.

April 18, 2014 - The number of unemployed people in Illinois dropped by 17,100, which the Dept. of Employment Security says was enough to lower the unemployment rate from 8.7 percent to 8.4 percent. Figures show the number of paying nonfarm positions was down by 3,200 over the month, but up by 29,400 on the year.

April 16, 2014 - The number of new home construction projects that started in March was up more than 11 percent compared to the same time in 2013, according to the latest Census Bureau figures.

April 15, 2014 - Americans worked more hours in March, which lowered the monthly real earnings average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, consumer prices shot up by about a percent and a half thanks largely in-part to the spike in natural gas prices. In the Midwest alone, natural gas prices went up by nearly 30 percent in just one month's time.

April 8, 2014 - A survey of state finances by the U.S. Census Bureau found that 48 states saw increased tax revenue in fiscal year 2013 compared to the year before. As a whole, income tax revenues were up by more than 10 percent and sales tax receipts brought in nearly four percent more than in 2012.

April 8, 2014 - The number of job openings is up, but the rate at which people are leaving their positions or being fired remains flat compared to the start of the year, says the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics.

April 7, 2014 - So far 2014 has not been the year for economic growth in Illinois, according to measurements taken by the Institute for Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. Economic growth has dropped every month since January.

April 3, 2014 - Mortgage rates continued climbing last week. A 30-year fixed mortgage averaged an interest rate of 4.41 percent with the 15-year counterpart was at 3.47 percent.

April 3, 2014 - A combination of decreasing exports and increasing imports lead to a nearly $4 billion jump in the nation's trade deficit between January and February, says the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

April 2, 2014 - The price of new manufactured goods orders increased by more than two percent in February, which should offset losses suffered at the close of 2013 and in January.

April 2, 2014 - Spending on new private construction projects jumped by more than 13 percent in February compared to a year ago, says the U.S. Census Bureau. Public construction spending dropped by one percent on the year.

March 31, 2014 - There was slow economic growth throughout the Midwestern United States in February, but it was still growth according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Illinois and Indiana had better months than other states in the region.

March 26, 2014 - Home sales, both nationwide and in Illinois, were down in February. Illinois sales were off by more than six percent compared to the year before. The Illinois Association of REALTORS says the downward trend was primary caused by cold temperatures and low inventory.

March 26, 2014 - Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau shows new orders for manufactured goods increased by more than two percent in February, which offsets the loss suffered in January. The increase appears to have been influenced by the 13 percent uptick in new defense orders.

March 24, 2014 - Economic activity increased throughout February, says the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

March 24, 2014 - Illinois's unemployment rate remained at 8.7 percent  in February, according to figures and revisions released by the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security. The Department increased the number of working Illinoisans in January by more than 9,000 than what was initially reported, and says another 6,400 positions were added to the total nonfarm payroll.

The figures come shortly after the Department announced unemployment rates had decreased in 11 of the state's 12 metropolitian areas over the year. Unemployment was up in all areas on a month-to-month basis, but the Department believes that is because more people have resumed their job search.

March 13, 2014 - At the close of 2013, private sector employers spent around $29.63 an hour per employee with nearly 70 percent of that going towards salary costs and the rest for benefits. During the same timespan, state and local governments spent $42.89 an hour per employee.

March 13, 2014 - Just in time for warmer temperatures and the start of the busier time of year in real estate, Freddie Mac reported mortgage rates have started to increase again. A 30-year fixed rate loan averaged 4.37 percent interest rate while 15-year mortgages were at 3.38 percent.

March 13, 2014 - Fuel prices jumped by more than five percent in February, but all other U.S. import prices dropped slightly. Import prices are down compared to a year ago, but so too are the price of U.S. exports.

March 11, 2014 - Wholesale trade receipts were down nearly two percent in January than they were at the close of 2013, but that was still an improvement compared to figures from 12 months ago.

March 11, 2014 - The number of job openings remained steady at four million in January, which is as it was for much of 2013. The U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics reports also hiring was slightly more common than the rate at which individuals were seperated from their jobs.

March 7, 2014 - Orders for manufactured goods slipped by another $2.2 billion in January, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. The loss follows a major decrease reported last month for December and