Jun 23, 2018 - Economy

Go deeper: 5 signs the U.S. economy is in good shape

While other political issues are embroiled in controversy — immigration, trade, and foreign policy, to name a few — the United States' economy seems to be in good shape, causing President Trump to often tout positive economic indicators:

The big picture: Unemployment is dropping, applications for disability benefits are plunging, and millennials are finally moving out on their own. But with the threat of a trade war on the horizon and signs that the economy may be soon slowing, there are worries about how long the boom can last.

The good, per CNBC:

  • Millennials are moving out: Millennials, the largest generation in the labor force, are leaving the nest and increasingly heading out on their own,
  • Disability applications are plunging: Fewer than 1.5 million Americans applied for disability benefits in 2017, "the lowest since 2002." Trump touted this statistic in a Saturday morning tweet.
  • Unemployment is dropping: Last week, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits was at 218,000, below the expected 220,000.
  • Homebuilding surged: U.S. homebuilding hit its highest level in May since July 2007.
  • Consumers are optimistic: Consumer sentiment hit its highest level in three months. University of Michigan's chief economist Richard Curtin told CNBS: "Greater certainty about future income and job prospects have become the main drivers of more favorable purchase plans."

Yes, but:

  • The threat of a trade war between the U.S. and its allies is concerning and some economists fear that prolonged economic retaliation could weaken crucial American alliances.
  • The Leading Economic Index fell short of expectations in May, after increasing only .2% instead of .4%. Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board, told CNBC: "The U.S. LEI still points to solid growth but the current trend, which is moderating, indicates that economic activity is not likely to accelerate."
  • While homebuilding surged as mentioned above, there was a drop in homebuilding permits for the second month, which "suggested housing market activity will remain moderate."
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