Number Cruncher

(The following are statistics compiled by Mackinac Center Senior Economist David L. Littmann from various national sources as of Aug. 24, 2005. They are meant to demonstrate the strength of the national economic recovery to Michiganians who assume that the state’s weak economy is typical of the rest of the country.)

  • U.S. jobless claims continue inching lower on average, and at 315,000, reflect the gain of 3.7 million jobs during the past two years.

  • The United States has experienced 26 consecutive months of manufacturing sector expansion, according to U.S. purchasing managers.

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  • U.S. real gross domestic product expanded at a well-above normal 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2005, and it is up 3.5 percent for the second quarter.

    • This measure is 3.7 percent higher than a year ago — fast enough to keep U.S. unemployment rates coming down.

  • No one forecasted the sustained and accelerated vigor in U.S. residential housing markets, which in turn have incited fabulous 7 percent to 8 percent annual increases in retail spending and in wealth accumulation (aggregate personal wealth is now $50 trillion nationwide).

    • In the first quarter of this year, annual housing price appreciation nationally was 12.5 percent. In Michigan, it reached 4.9 percent.

  • Consumer confidence — despite ever-rising oil prices, interest rate increases, war and terribly depressing political rancor — is on the upswing, and it has reached its best level in three years.

  • Wages and salaries are up 7 percent from last year.

  • Profit as a percent of GDP is at the highest ratio-level in 28 years, since 1977.

  • There is a continued expansion in capital expenditures.

  • Last year, every state in the nation had attained budget balances or surpluses — except Michigan.


David L. Littmann is senior economist at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.