STRONG G.D.P. GROWTH IN FIRST QUARTER: U.S. economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the first quarter according to the U.S. Commerce Department. No one was forecasting growth that high. This is the best first quarter showing in four years. The high number was driven largely by two factors. First, companies had gotten a bit too lean on inventory and were stocking up. Second, exports jumped in the first quarter while imports contracted, and that aids the GDP number. These two strong showings offset personal spending data which only grew by 1.2%
DURABLE GOODS: New orders for durable goods jumped 2.7% in March led by non-defense aircraft, rising 31.2%, and defense aircraft, rising 17.7%. Without aircraft, durable goods were still up 1.1%, the fourth monthly gain in the last five months.
NEW RECORD HIGH: Stocks surged ahead on upbeat economic news and positive corporate earnings reports. The first quarter GDP jump helped push stocks higher. One of the disappointing components of the GDP report, muted personal consumption spending, was offset by the prospects of the U.S. and China meeting next week to potentially wrap up a trade deal, which many see as a potential growth booster. Of the more than 100 S&P 500 companies that have reported first quarter earnings, nearly 80% have beaten consensus expectations.
U.S. DEMOGRAPHICS: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the American labor force will rise by only 0.5% per year over the next decade. That is about one third as fast as from 1950-2007. This is why economic growth is forecast to remain well below late 20th century levels. About half of Americans live in a county where the prime working age population (ages 25-54) shrank over the last decade.
LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB?: According to a survey of employees (who rated their workplaces from 1 to 10) by Forbes, here are the top ten large employer-friendly companies in the U.S.:
- Trader Joes – 9.59
- Southwest Airlines – 9.54
- Lilly – 9.49
- Costco – 9.39
- Garmin – 9.38
- Google – 9.34
- Stanford University – 9.3
- SC Johnson – 9.28
- Mayo Clinic – 9.27
- Michelin Group – 9.27
The top mid-size company was TripAdvisor. Also on the top ten were Penguin Random House, AirBnB and AARP.
LONG LIFE: According to the Social Security Administration, if you are a 65-year-old man, you have a 7% probability of living to the age of 95. You have a 63% chance of living to age 80. If you are a 65-year-old woman, you have a 13% chance of living to age 95 and a 73% chance of living to age 80. If one member of a married couple is age 65, then the likelihood of one of them living to be at least 90 is 48%. The likelihood of one reaching age 95 is 20%. The percentage decreases to 4% for age 100.