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More Favorable Developments

Last week’s new economic data began with a personal income and outlays report which suggested slower consumption growth. But the numbers released Friday are a little more encouraging.

First there was the March employment report, which showed an average employment increase for the first quarter of 160,000 jobs per month according to the establishment survey and 219,000 per month according to the household survey. It would take many years of that kind of growth to get back to a labor market that anyone would describe as healthy. But at least at that pace we are finally making some actual progress. Menzie has more.

A stronger positive signal was provided by the March ISM manufacturing report, whose 61.2 reading reflects managers’ reports that new orders, production and employment were better in March than in February.

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Source: Calculated Risk

Auto sales also continued to climb, up 17% from March 2010 and up 45% from March 2009.

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Data source: Wardsauto.com

One worry is that gasoline prices are now about the level we saw at the end of April 2008. Interestingly, March 2011 light vehicle sales are also about the same levels as in April 2008. The big difference is, in April of 2008 we were describing those levels as a 14% drop from April of 2006. Now the car manufacturers count themselves lucky to be doing even that well.

Click for Interactive Chart

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Originally published at Econbrowser and reproduced here with permission.

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