Signs of Strength in the Economy

In case you needed something to brighten your Friday even a little bit, there’s been a smattering of good economic news this month (courtesy of the invaluable CalculatedRisk).

New unemployment claims down by 3,000 this week

Housing starts slightly up and vacancies slightly down

Industrial production and capacity utilization up

Retail sales (seasonally adjusted) up for November

It’s important not to read too much into these encouraging signs, though it’s worth noting that retail sales appear to have eclipsed their pre-recession peak and industrial production, while still considerably off its high, has been increasing steadily since last year.

Ongoing weakness in housing prices, plus the weak pace of inflation, may provoke more cries of “But demand is weak!” from progressive circles, but it’s important to keep in perspective the sectors of the economy that may be quietly returning to health.