US Economy: It's Looking Good, Good, Good…

04 December 2003

Data from various sources released Wednesday paint a picture of an economy once again firing on all four cylinders.

• According to Q3 figures issued by the US Labor Department, worker productivity rose at the quickest pace in twenty years. Productivity -- defined as worker output per hour (excluding farming) -- soared 9.4%, the highest gain since 1983. That percentage was revised from an earlier estimate of +8.1%. "We're at the start of a solid, self-sustaining economic expansion," crowed chief economist Mark Zandi.

• On Monday the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing activity index was the highest since December 1983, with gross domestic product rising 8.2%, accelerating faster than at any time since the fourth quarter of 1984.

• But in a marginal dip, the ISM's non-manufacturing index eased to 60.1 in November from 64.7 in October, disappointing analysts who had forecast 64.3. However, the employment index climbed from 52.9 to 54.9, its highest since March 2000 -- an early indicator that the US economy finally is growing quickly enough to create some jobs. "We are beginning to see businesses becoming a little more willing to hire," said A G Edwards & Sons' chief economist Gary Thayer.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff