10 economic indicators that show the economy is thriving

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From housing starts and car sales to industrial production and manufacturing activity, top economic indicators have all managed to withstand the damaging effects of Hurricane Florence, which ravaged the Carolinas in September.

The latest reports from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis on gross domestic product showed an annual rate of 3.6 percent in the third quarter of 2017. And August’s unemployment rate is at a 49-year low, its lowest in 17 years.

Now that we know the economy looks healthy, it’s time to check in on some of the key economic statistics used in predicting how much you might earn and how many jobs there are for you.

Real estate

[Consumer inflation jumps past central bank’s 2 percent mark]

Housing starts — the raw number of new homes being built — were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.23 million in September, according to the latest numbers from the Commerce Department. That’s up 15.2 percent from a year earlier.

Car sales

July sales of passenger cars reached 1.07 million, their best result since February 2015. Through September, car sales have totaled 1.36 million, up 1.2 percent.

Manufacturing and industrial production

Economists expect industrial production and manufacturing to grow by 0.5 percent in October, while manufacturing will also grow by about 0.5 percent.


September’s September trade deficit was at $58.4 billion, down slightly from a revised $59.2 billion in August.

Education and health

Education and health services spend their money on tuition, school supplies and other college costs. In September, public colleges and universities had average tuition, fees and book costs per full-time, nonresident student of $27,610, up 1.6 percent from a year earlier.


American cities are growing faster than expected, according to the Brookings Institution. Cities in the Northeast grew by more than 3 percent in 2016, and those in the Midwest grew at 2.6 percent, according to data from Brookings.

College credit has increased by 8.7 percent for non-white students since 2011.

Housing is up

Existing home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.41 million in September, the strongest showing since May. This was up from 5.23 million in August.


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