Business Cycle Indicators at the Beginning of April

The Bloomberg consensus is for an increase of 674 thousand jobs in March. That’s heady news, offsetting the somewhat less upbeat news from the estimate of February monthly GDP released by IHS Markit today – a decrease of 0.9% after upward revision in January’s figure by 0.3% (not annualized). Even if expectations are met, employment will still be 5.8% below that recorded at  the NBER peak in February 2020. In the context of key macro indicators followed by the  NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee:

Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment (dark blue), Bloomberg consensus as of 3/3 for February nonfarm payroll employment (light blue square), industrial production (red),  personal income excluding transfers in Ch.2012$ (green), manufacturing and trade sales in Ch.2012$ (black), consumption in Ch.2012$ (light blue), and monthly GDP in Ch.2012$ (pink), all log normalized to 2020M02=0. Source: BLS, Federal Reserve, BEA, via FRED, IHS Markit (nee Macroeconomic Advisers) (3/1/2021 release), NBER, and author’s calculations.

Atlanta Fed GDPNow (4/1) is for 6% in Q1; NY Fed (3/26) is at 6.1%. IHS Markit nowcast as of today is 5.2% (all figures SAAR).