Last updateFri, 16 Aug 2019 8pm

Worker Productivity Up in First Quarter

Productivity increased 3.4% in the first quarter of 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. From the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019, productivity increased 2.4%, reflecting a 3.9% increase in output and a 1.5% increase in hours worked.

Manufacturing sector labor productivity increased 0.4% in the first quarter of 2019, as output decreased 2.0% and hours worked decreased 2.4%. Productivity declined 0.6% in the durable manufacturing sector, reflecting a 2.8% decrease in output and a 2.2% decrease in hours worked.

Durable Goods Orders Down 2.1% in April

New orders for manufactured durable goods in April, down two of the last three months, decreased $5.2 billion or 2.1% to $248.6 billion, unchanged from the previously published decrease. This followed a 1.7% March increase. Transportation equipment, also down two of the last three months, drove the decrease, $5.3 billion or 5.9% to $85.5 billion.

Many Senate Republicans Oppose Mexican Tariffs

Trump’s plan to implement a 5% tariff on Mexican imports is facing significant opposition from Congressional Republicans. If he vetoes a measure blocking the plan there may be enough support in the Senate to muster the 2/3 votes to override it.

“In the House, it's not clear that there's the majority needed to override a veto. House Republicans may not like the tariffs, but many are not inclined to cross the president,” CBS News reports.

ISM Manufacturing Index Down 0.7% from April

Manufacturing expanded in May, as the PMI registered 52.1%, a decrease of 0.7% from the April reading of 52.8%. This is the lowest reading since October 2016, when the index registered 51.7%. “This indicates growth in manufacturing for the 33rd consecutive month. The PMI continued a period of expansion softening that began in August 2018. Softening this month was primarily due to inputs — supplier deliveries and inventories. Three of the big six industries expanded,” says Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting.

Trump Plans 5% Tariff on Mexican Imports

On May 30 President Trump “shocked markets by threatening to slap 5% surcharges on Mexican imports beginning June 10, as part of a demand that the country do more to contain a surge of migrants streaming across the border,” Yahoo Finance reports.

Major industry groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “came out strongly against the threat of tariffs, which come as the United States Mexico Canada trade agreement languishes in Congress.”

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