On a positive note, small business optimism rose to the highest level since December, after five months of “lousy growth”. The NFIB optimism index reached 98.3, with six of its ten components improving. “The NFIB May survey results confirm that the economy is moving ahead, but at an uninspiring pace. Owners do what is necessary, like hiring workers when needed, to keep up with growth mostly powered by an increasing population”.
Job openings rose to a record high of 5.38 million in April, with 4.89 million private-sector positions open and 489,000 government jobs open. With 8.55 million jobless, there were 1.6 job seekers for every open position.
Retail sales jumped in May, climbing 1.2% for a third straight increase. Auto dealers, clothing stores and building material stores posted the strongest sales, but gains were broad-based, with 11 of 13 major categories posting increases.
After hitting a six-month low in May, consumer sentiment rebounded in June, as the University of Michigan sentiment index rose to 94.6, as consumers’ views on current conditions and expectations both improved.
The inability to buy food slipped to the lowest level in 7 years, as the percentage of the population that reported not having enough money to buy food in the past year fell to 15.8% in the first quarter, according to Gallup and Healthways. That marks the lowest since early 2008, when 16.4% reported lacking enough money for food.