Major Economic Indicators for the United States

United States
IndicatorRelease dates
ISM Manufacturing Indexthe first business day of each month
ADP National Employment Reporton Wednesdays, two business days prior to the release of the Employment Situation Report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
ISM Non-manufacturing Indexthe third business day of each month
Unemployment Ratethe first Friday of each month
Non-farm Payrollsthe first Friday of each month
Retail Salesaround the 20th of each month
Consumer Price Indexaround the 15th of each month
Producer Price Indexaround the 15th of each month
FOMC Interest Rate Policyevery 6 weeks, 8 times a year
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)quarterly
Personal Consumption Expenditureat the end of each month
Existing Home Salesquarterly
Name of Indicator
ISM Manufacturing Index
Release Date
the first business day of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

ISM Manufacturing Index is released by the Institute for Supply Management. The index is based on the surveys of purchasing managers in the manufacturing firms and it reflects the business confidence.

ISM Manufacturing Index is one of the most important U.S. economic indicators that draws the attention of investors. The data is collected from questionnaire surveys of purchasing managers from about 350 manufacturing firms. The managers are queried to report on new orders, production, employment, inventories and backlog of orders. By comparing the current month with the prior month, purchasing managers are asked to select from three answer choices: “better”, “the same”, or “worse”.

In addition, the ISM Manufacturing Index is the first released index among all economic indicators. The index attracts the attention of investors as it is released before the announcement of GDP and it signals the economic conditions.

If the reading is above 50% of the dividing line, it indicates economic expansion. On the other hand, if the reading is below 50%, it indicates economic contraction. When the ISM Manufacturing Index is below 50%, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) does not raise interest rates. Therefore, it provides invaluable information on the direction of interest rates determined by the FRB.

Name of Indicator
ADP National Employment Report
Release Date
on Wednesdays, two business days prior to the release of the Employment Situation Report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Characteristics of Indicators

The ADP National Employment Report is an indicator on employment situation and it is computed and released by Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP), which is an American provider of business outsourcing services and computing solutions. ADP provides payroll services to companies, and since 2001, the company has been investigating the U.S. employment situation. Currently, ACP is investigating the monthly change in nonfarm private employment targeting at more than 500,000 U.S. business clients.

ADP National Employment Report is scheduled to be released on Wednesdays at 9:15 p.m. (10:15 p.m. in winter time), two business days prior to monthly nonfarm payroll employment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It provides investors an earlier view of nonfarm payroll employment in the market.

Investors examine the data by checking whether it is “above”, “approximately the same” or “below” the market expectations. When the ADP National Employment Report shows good results, the Employment Situation Report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics may show bad results. Thus, it is important to pay attention to the fact that these two indicators do not necessarily predict the same results.

Name of Indicator
ISM Non-manufacturing Index
Release Date
the third business day of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

ISM Non-manufacturing Index is released by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The indicator is based on the surveys of purchasing managers in more than 300 non-manufacturing firms. It is an indicator which reflects the economic conditions

Investors keep track of the index because this economic indicator reflects the performance of companies in the non-manufacturing sector (i.e., services sector).

If the index reading is above 50% of the dividing line, it indicates economic expansion. On the other hand, if the index reading is below 50%, it indicates economic contraction. The indicator is related to GDP and the method of calculation has been changed since January 2008. The managers are queried to report on new orders, production, employment, backlog of orders and inventories. By comparing the current month with the prior month, purchasing managers are asked to select from three answer choices: “better”, “the same”, or “worse”.

Name of Indicator
Unemployment Rate
Release Date
the first Friday of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

Unemployment rate is an indicator that shows the percentage of unemployed people in the labor force. The definition of “unemployed people” varies from one country to another. By looking at unemployment rate, one can keep track of the employment situation of the country. It is thus the most important economic indicator that draws the attention of investors. To rank the developed countries in the order of unemployment rate, it is as follows: EU, United States and Japan. Similar to inflation rates, unemployment rate is closely correlated with people’s daily life. It is thus sometimes used for political purposes.

In the United States, the survey is conducted with persons 16 years of age and over and it does not include military personnel, prisoners and jail inmates, and those who are not actively looking for a job. In the survey, a number of questions are asked to determine the employment status. Is the person employed or unemployed during the reference week? Whether the person without work is available for work or not? Have the person been looking for work within the last four weeks? Have the person been laid off or not during the last four weeks?

While examining the unemployment rate, there are three statistics that an investor needs to pay attention to: the statistics of the previous month, market forecast prior to the release of unemployment rate, and officially released unemployment rate. Especially, one should look at the market forecast and officially released unemployment rate. If there is a big difference between the released unemployment rate and the market forecast, it is very likely that large movements in the market will occur.

This data is also an important indicator of the performance of a company and sometimes it can influence the monetary policy. In particular, during economic downturns, monetary easing is likely to be carried out immediately after the release of unemployment rate.

Name of Indicator
Non-farm Payrolls
Release Date
the first Friday of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

Non-farm payroll is one of employment situation statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on a monthly basis and it indicates the changes in the number of employees except for farm workers. The data is collected based on the surveys of nonfarm payrolls in the US and it does not include general government employees, private household employees and farm workers. Together with unemployment rate, it is considered as one of the most important economic indicators.

In addition, the non-farm payroll employment shows the changes in the number of employees in industries excluding farming industry. It does not include managers and self-employed workers. The data is released by sectors. The employment statistics on manufacturing sector draws special attention from investors.

The non-farm payroll employment report is released on the first Friday of each month. Two days prior to this report, the ADP national employment report is released, which is usually considered by investors as an earlier view of the nonfarm payroll employment in the market. It is important to note that estimates of the non-farm payroll employment are sometimes influenced by the ADP national employment report.

While examining the indicator, there are three statistics that an investor needs to pay attention to: the data of the previous month, market forecast prior to the release of the data, and officially released data. Especially, one should look at the market forecast and the official release. If there is a big difference between the official release and the market forecast, it is very likely that large movements in the market will occur.

Name of Indicator
Retail Sales
Release Date
around the 20th of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

Retail sales are defined as the sum of retail sales of commodities sold by domestic producers and it is released by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is considered as an economic indicator that helps investors to keep track of movements in consumer spending. It also draws the attention of market participants as it is used to compute GDP. In addition, it is adopted by the FRB to predict economic trends. The monthly retail sales can be revised substantially. Therefore, in addition to the latest data, it is also important to examine the released data in the previous month.

To put it simply, retail sales is an indicator that shows how much consumers are spending on goods. Investors pay attention to this indicator in order to have a sense of the economic performance of the country. Because the data are collected on a monthly basis, it is necessary to compare with the data released in the previous month and examine monthly percent changes. This is important for investors to forecast trends in exchange rate.

Name of Indicator
Consumer Price Index
Release Date
around the 15th of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

Consumer price index is an economic indicator that measures the changes in the retail prices of consumer goods and services actually purchased by consumers. Since it is an important indicator that is closed correlated with the inflation rate, many countries, such as the United States, EU, Japan, China, Australia and emerging countries, pay special attention to this index in the market.

n the case of the United States, the consumer price index shows the changes in prices of a fixed basket of goods and services that are purchased by urban consumers on average. This index is one of the economic indicators that signals the standard of living and it is one of the most important indicators that is used to analyze the inflation rate in the United States.

To put it simply, consumer price index indicates price inflation and deflation. If the consumer price index increased dramatically, it is most likely that interest rates will be raised in order to keep the rate of inflation low. As this economic indicator is closely related to the exchange rate volatility, it is necessary to look at the consumer price index while trading.

Name of Indicator
Producer Price Index
Release Date
around the 15th of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

Producer price index is an economic indicator that measures the changes in the selling price received by producers. Many market participants keep an eye on the indicator as changes in the prices have a great impact on the economic policy. Together with consumer price index, it is used to predict the inflation rate and the rate of change in prices.

In the United States, the producer price index is calculated based on surveys of selling prices by the domestic producers. It is released monthly according to three categories: stage of processing (raw material, intermediate goods and final goods), commodity, and industry. The indicator is similar to the consumer price index. The core index is viewed as an important factor in the stage of processing and it excludes food and energy which are high volatility items.

For example, when the producer price index rises, the price of goods that are purchased by consumers will also rise, which will lead to inflation and the value of money will decrease.

When the inflation occurs, the price will rise and the value of the currency will fall. Therefore, in order to keep the inflation stable, the interest rate and the value of the currency are usually raised. If the interest rate is raised, there will be an increasing number of people who buy the currency.

When the producer price index rises, it is easier to buy the currency, and when the producer price index falls, it is easier to sell the currency. It is thus important to keep track of this economic indicator.

Name of Indicator
FOMC Interest Rate Policy
Release Date
every 6 weeks, 8 times a year
Characteristics of Indicators

FOMC interest rate policy is released by the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Open Market Committee is the highest decision-making body that decides the monetary policy and the policy is executed through open market operations by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The meeting is held 8 times a year, approximately every six weeks, in Washington and the policy decisions are released on the last day of the meeting.

The fed funds rate, released by the FOMC, is the overnight rate at which banks borrow from the central bank. The fed funds rate is set high when the economic conditions are good and the fed funds rate is low when there is an economic recession. Because the fed funds rate has an impact on the short-term interest rate, exchange rate and long-term interest rate, investors keep a close watch on the rate.

Even though there is no big difference in the released data, the remarks and comments may lead to fluctuation in exchange rate. It is thus necessary to be cautious when the FOMC monetary policy is released.

Name of Indicator
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Release Date
quarterly
Characteristics of Indicators

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the sum of the gross value added of domestic production of goods and services within a specific period of time. It is considered as an important indicator of economic growth and production activity in long-term trends. The advanced GDP estimates, as well as the preliminary and final GDP estimates, are released at the 25th of the month after each quarter ends. It draws the attention of investors as it is the broadest indicator of economic activities and it measures the overall economic performance of the country.

Compared with the previous data, we examine whether there is an increase or decrease in the GDP growth rate to evaluate the economic performance of the country. Investors are more focused on advanced estimates and they examine the personal consumption expenditures, residential investment, fixed investment, inventory investment, and government consumption expenditures and gross investment. As it is a comprehensive indication of the overall growth rate of a country, it is very important for investors to pay attention to this economic indicator.

There are two measures of GDP: nominal gross domestic product (nominal GDP) and real gross domestic product (real GDP). The real GDP is different from the nominal GDP as it accounts for price changes due to inflation. It is very important to keep track of the GDP of the United States because U.S. GDP constitutes 23% of the world’s GDP and it has a great influence on the world economy.

Name of Indicator
Personal Consumption Expenditure
Release Date
at the end of each month
Characteristics of Indicators

Personal consumption expenditure indicates the personal consumption expenditures deflator which is one of the components of GDP. The GDP includes personal consumption expenditures, capital investment, housing investment, inventory investment, government expenditure, and net exports. This economic indicator is divided into three categories: durable goods (such as motor vehicles and household appliances), services (such as food services and travel services), and nondurable goods (such as food and clothing). Together with personal income, it is released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the end of each month. As personal spending constitutes around 70% of the US’s GDP, it draws the attention of investors.

This indicator shows the price changes in personal consumption. It is also used by excluding price changes from changes in personal consumption. The core PCE deflator, excluding high volatility items such as food and energy, is an important factor for FRB to evaluate the price inflation. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to this economic indicator.

Name of Indicator
Existing Home Sales
Release Date
quarterly
Characteristics of Indicators

Existing home sales are an indicator that shows the number of existing homes in which the sales were closed during the survey month. It is based on the data in which the ownership of the property is transferred. Because the existing home sales market is much larger than the new home sales market, investors tend to keep an eye on the existing home sales.

The existing home sales can be easily influenced by the income and mortgage rates. In particular, when the federal funds rate is raised, it is necessary to note that the mortgage rate will rise.

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