The U.S. economy’s comeback is firing on all cylinders with employment, retail spending and manufacturing exhibiting strong gains.

Thursday’s barrage of economic data showed that some parts of the economy, like retail sales, have returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Applications for unemployment benefits, while still elevated, hit the lowest in 13 months.

The rebound reflected a wave of business reopenings last month, increased vaccination rates and a fresh round of stimulus checks to households. In addition, the bounce back follows a harsh winter and surge in Covid-19 cases in many parts of the U.S. that curbed activity.

U.S. retail sales accelerated in March by the most in 10 months, increasing 9.8% after declining in February. A separate report showed initial state jobless claims fell by almost 200,000 last week, partly reflecting a significant drop in California.

Spending Again
Other reports Thursday showed strength in manufacturing too. A Federal Reserve Bank of New York index of factory activity in the state jumped to the highest level since 2017. A Philadelphia Fed manufacturing gauge improved to the strongest reading since 1973.

Additionally, production at U.S. factories increased in March by the most in eight months following the weather-related setback in February.

U.S. stocks rose to record highs and Treasury yields fell as investors cheered the data and earnings reports.

While the economy has shown signs of roaring back, Fed officials have cautioned in recent days that the U.S. has a long road to recovery—with many Americans still out of work and the virus still percolating.

Initial jobless claims are more than double pre-pandemic levels and there are an estimated 8 million fewer jobs than in February 2020. The recovery has also been uneven, with the service industry hit the hardest, leaving many lower-income and minority Americans out of work.

Retail Bump
The government’s retail sales report—which was better than expected—showed all 13 categories posting gains in March. The total value of sales in each category, with the exception of restaurants, are above where they were in February of last year.

Receipts at restaurants rose 13.4% in March, while sales at apparel retailers jumped 18.3%—both the strongest advances since June of last year.

First « 1 2 » Next