Categories are graded from A thru F:
Economic Growth: C- (June 2011: D+)
The U.S. economic recovery remains sluggish. Real GDP grew at a 1.3% pace in 2Q11, following downwardly revised growth of 0.4% in 1Q11; far below the 1.9% rate of expansion previously estimated for last quarter. We now have positive Y/Y employment growth for eleven consecutive months, with payrolls expanding by 117,000 in July, up from 46,000 in June, and the unemployment rate dropping from 9.2% to 9.1%. Initial jobless claims fell to 400,000 in July. Government payrolls decreased by 37,000 in July, the ninth straight sequential drop.
The average length of unemployment increased to 40.4 weeks (new record high), and the labor force percentage of those unemployed over 27 weeks dipped slightly from 4.1% to 4.0%. On a positive note, retail sales continue to improve, with Y/Y growth at 8.5%.
Leading Indicators: C- (June 2011: C)
Leading indicators for the economy are mixed this month, with our overall grade for this subsection of indicators dropping from a C in June to C- in July. Many of the leading indicators we analyze have been trending down over the past several months, returning to levels not seen since mid-2009, a time when the U.S. economy was still in the midst of the Great Recession. For example, the ISM Purchasing Managers Index has fallen two consecutive months, dropping to 50.9 (just above the expansion threshold value), a level not seen since July 2009. In addition, the Vistage CEO Confidence Index fell in 2Q11, crossing into negative Y/Y territory for the first time since 2Q09. Corporate profit growth was revised down from last quarter, rising at an 8.8% Y/Y clip in 1Q11, the weakest annual growth rate since Q309. Other leading indicators such as the ECRI Leading Index were relatively flat versus last month.