May 2021 Leading Indicators, June UI Claims

Robert A. Dye, Ph.D.

,

Daniel Sanabria

Economic Chart

The Conference Board's U.S. Leading Economic Index for May increased by a strong 1.3 percent after similar strong gains in March and April.



Leading Index Strong Again in May

• The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index for May increased by 1.3 percent.
• Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance gained 37,000 to hit 412,000 for the week ending June 12.

The Conference Board’s U.S. Leading Economic Index for May increased by a strong 1.3 percent after similar strong gains in March and April. The May gain in the LEI was driven by the improvement in average initial weekly unemployment claims for the month. Supply constraints may be partially to blame for the two components of the Leading Index that declined in May, building permits and orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft. The level of the Leading Index is now above its previous peak from January 2020. The Coincident Index for the U.S. increased by a moderate 0.4 percent in May while the Lagging Index decreased noticeably by 2.2 percent. The Lagging Index has been impacted by the timing of fiscal stimulus payments to households.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly increased by 37,000 for the week ending June 12, to hit 412,000. We expect the walkdown in claims that began in February to continue as most states begin to roll back enhanced unemployment benefits. Federally enhanced benefits will expire for all states in early September. Initial claims are now about half of where they were at the start of this year, but still about double where they were at the start of 2020. Continuing claims increased by 1,000 for the week ending June 5, to hit 3,518,000, far below the 18,927,000 from this time last year. The total number of claims for all unemployment benefit programs fell by a sizeable 559,873 for the week ending May 29, to hit 14,828,950, about half the level from a year earlier. 

Market Reaction: U.S. equity markets were mixed after the open. The 10-year Treasury bond yield is down to 1.53 percent. NYMEX crude oil is down to $72.11/barrel. Natural gas futures are down to $3.20/mmbtu.



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June 17, 2021
Robert A. Dye, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Comerica Bank

Robert A. Dye, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President and Chief Economist
Daniel Sanabria, Senior Economist at Comerica Bank

Daniel Sanabria

Senior Economist

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