Tag Archives: Federal Reserve

New data on the real estate market : Visualizing seasonality in house listings and prices

FRED keeps adding new data.* The latest batch is detailed data on the housing market from Realtor.com. The FRED graph above shows the well-known seasonal pattern in the number of properties actively on sale: The real estate market is much thinner in the winter, and sellers often wait for spring to put their properties up for sale.
But not everyone can wait. Financial circumstances, job-related moves, or new family situations may force an owner to put a house up for sale at a moment that’s not optimal. On the other side of the market, job or family circumstances may force some people to look for a house when it’s not the best time to do so.
It turns out the first story is more common: that is, too many sellers chasing too few buyers (at least in relative terms). This imbalance leads to lower prices in the winter, as we can see

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WTI vs. Brent oil prices: When and why do they diverge?

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude oil prices generally track each other pretty closely,* although their levels can be different. In 2011, though, the two prices diverged. You can also read more here and here, but let’s talk about the details.
The FRED graph above shows the prices per barrel of WTI and Brent crude from 2010 to present. Before 2011, the average price of a barrel of WTI was $35.34 and the average price of a barrel of Brent was $34.00.
Price differences can reflect the ease of refining, the geography of where the oil is produced, costs of transportation to where the contracts are fulfilled, and political and economic conditions in the regions where the oil is sold. But the increasing price differential in 2011 is often attributed to the bottleneck in transportation of the product to Cushing, Oklahoma, where WTI oil futures contracts are settled. The gap began

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The largest changes in payroll employment : Comparing April 2020’s social distancing and August 1983’s AT&T strike

The April 2020 changes in payroll employment are unprecedented in scale, but their nature is familiar.
The FRED graph above shows the monthly percentage change in payroll employment across all service-providing industries since 1939. Although the most recent reduction in leisure and hospitality employment (the red bar on the far right edge of the graph) has been the largest, both in magnitude and in proportion to the size of the industry’s labor force, we can compare it to a somewhat similar event: the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. union workers’ strike of August 1983 (the blue bars at the center of the graph).
Both reductions in employment were orchestrated: In 1983, the labor stoppage was to achieve better working conditions; in 2020, the labor stoppage has been to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flip side of an organized labor stoppage is the organized nature of its recovery. In the case

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Data on families : Maps and charts for Mother’s Day

View on GeoFRED®
Did you remember to call your mother yesterday? Did you send flowers? Why not also send her a (belated) FRED dataset? Above is one example—a colorful GeoFRED map showing county-level data on single-parent households with children. Below is another—a pie chart showing the percentages of family types with their own children: married couples, single mothers, and single fathers.
Once you’ve selected some FRED data, explore more graph formats by clicking on “Edit Graph” from the series page. You can get to the series page for the FRED data shown here by clicking on “View on GeoFRED” and “Customize” at the bottom of the image. From the “Format” tab, navigate through the options, including colors and patterns.
And don’t forget to say “Thank you” to Mom!

How the map was created: In GeoFRED, click on “Tools” and select the county maps. Look for “Single-Parent Households” in the dropdown menu. From the “Choose

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Reckoning with premature deaths : CDC data on premature deaths for the St. Louis area

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in some way. The mildest cases involve inconveniences such as being confined at home to avoid spreading the virus. Other cases involve unemployment, lost businesses, and accumulating debt. The worst cases involve coping with the premature deaths of loved ones.
Each death—and its associated life—has unique and powerful elements. Yet, some deaths can be considered more “normal” than others, especially if they’re associated with very old age. The FRED graph above explores CDC data on premature deaths for FRED’s hometown, St. Louis city, as well as neighboring St. Louis County (separate from the city). Solid lines show the crude rates while dashed lines show the age-adjusted rates from 1999 to 2017.
According to the CDC, the premature death rate includes all deaths of those younger than 80 years of age. The crude death rate is simply the number of deaths reported each calendar year per 100,000

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Labor force participation rates of armed forces veterans : May the force be with you

The FRED Team has been reporting on a lot of dire economic data lately. Today, May the 4th, offers the chance for some light(saber)ness—using a multilayered Star Wars pun to salute our armed forces.
The FRED Blog has shown the labor force participation rates of men and women worldwide—in the U.S. and across the OECD. Today, we look at the labor force participation rate of men and women veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
The men’s rate is the solid orange line, the women’s rate is the solid magenta line, and the average across both genders is the dashed red line. As with the labor force participation rate of the overall civilian population, the rates in this graph are decreasing.
Notice how different the labor force participation rates of veteran men and women are, particularly relative to the average across genders. This is because the proportion of veteran men to veteran women is

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Household debt meets corporate debt

Households take on debt for a variety of reasons, such as financing education and purchasing a house. Household debt in the U.S. increased from 59% of GDP in 1990 to 98% of GDP in 2009, and many economists argue that the Great Recession was “Great” because household leverage was so high at the time. It has since declined steadily. In fact, in 2019, household debt and corporate debt were the closest they have been in nearly 30 years.
The FRED graph above shows both series as a percentage of GDP: household debt and corporate debt. Household debt has exceeded corporate debt since the early 1990s, and this difference was particularly large in the years leading up to the Financial Crisis of 2008. For instance, in the third quarter of 2006, household debt was greater than corporate debt by as much as 31% of GDP. In the years since the Great Recession,

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Medical services spending : A look back at expenditures on treating diseases in the U.S.

The FRED Blog has covered healthcare before. (See the list of related posts below.) In this post, we look at pre-pandemic data on medical services spending in the U.S., specifically by category of illness.
Per the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA): “To better measure spending trends and treatment prices, BEA developed a set of supplemental statistics called the Health Care Satellite Account. These statistics give policymakers, researchers and the public another way of understanding the economics of health care. The satellite account measures U.S. health care spending by the diseases being treated (for example, cancer or diabetes) instead of by the types of goods and services purchased (such as doctor’s office visits or drugs).”
These data, available for 2000-2016, allow us to compare per-person expenditures on medical services across different diseases. The FRED graph above shows that expenditures per person on infectious and parasitic diseases (red bars) was, until 2015, smaller than

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Eating out or staying in? FRED says bon appétit

The FRED Blog has used data from the Census Bureau’s advance retail sales release table to compare the choice of spending outlets over time and to plot the relationship between gasoline prices and sales at gasoline stations. Today we use the “advance retail sales” data available for March 2020 to show another dimension of the social distancing required to manage the spread of COVID-19.
In the FRED graph above, the data show fairly steady growth of retail sales at restaurants and bars (the black line) catching up to retail sales at food and beverage stores (the red line) in August 2018. Note that to be able to compare sales figures over time, those figures are adjusted for the cost of living. The very last observations look like vertical lines because social distancing has dramatically switched consumer demand for restaurants and bars—almost dollar for dollar—to food and beverage stores. Keep in mind

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The decline in industrial production: One for the ages

On Tuesday, April 15, the Federal Reserve released the industrial production (IP) index for March. You have to go to the very far right data point in the FRED graph to see it, but industrial activity plunged in March because of the economic effects stemming from social-distancing orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of businesses have closed or been disrupted, and mass layoffs have occurred. But the March IP index of 103.66 is still far higher than the level registered during the depth of the recession and financial crisis, which was 87.07 in June 2009.
The IP index is one of the nation’s longest continuously produced economic indicators, starting in January 1919. It measures production (real output) of manufacturers, mining (e.g., oil and natural gas), and electric and gas utilities and steadily increases over time; but it is highly sensitive to the state of the economy and falls during

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