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Graphic Economics

A collection of graphic representations of data by CEPR researchers on important economic issues.

Average Weekly Hours of All Employees in Selected Industries, 2006-2010 Print
November 5, 2010

The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment report shows the average workweek increased by 0.1 hours, reversing a September decline. This is an important series to follow, since it has implications both for the theory that structural factors are responsible for high unemployment and also the claim that uncertainty is discouraging firms from hiring. In both cases, average hours should rise. In the first case, because firms are unable to find the workers with the skills they need; in the second, because firms are meeting their demand for labor by working the existing workforce longer rather than accepting the commitment associated with hiring new workers.


Read the full Jobs Byte.

Growth Rate of Investment in Equipment and Software by Quarter, 2009-2010 Print
October 29, 2010

Read the full GDP Byte.

Weekly Change in Purchase Mortgage Applications Index, Feb 2010-Oct 2010 Print
October 26, 2010

The first-time homebuyers tax credit reversed the decline of housing prices in 2008 and early 2009. However, the reversal was accomplished primarily by pulling purchases forward. The data show that sales plunged after the expiration of the credit. This was first visible in the sharp drop in the mortgage applications index in the first weeks in May. This index has stayed very low and shows no sign of increasing with data through the middle of October. This indicates that the buying end of the market will be very weak through at least the rest of 2010, continuing the downward pressure on prices.


Read the entire Housing Market Monitor.

Change in Commodity Prices, Dec 2003-Sept 2010 Print
October 15, 2010

The price of imports has a significant impact on the balance of trade. For example, the price of commodity imports from China has risen 0.3 percent since the end of 2003—less than 0.05 percent per year. By contrast, the price of those from industrialized countries rose 22.8 percent and the price index for all commodities has risen 15.2 percent over the same period. Thus, the relative price of commodity imports from China have fallen, while those from industrialized countries have risen.


Since 2003, the trade deficit with China has doubled from about $10 billion to more than $21 billion per month, while that with Canada, Germany, and Japan has shrunk from more than $13 billion to less than $10 billion per month. This provides even more evidence to support the Economics 101 argument that prices matter to buyers, and therefore exchange rate imbalances are significant drivers of trade imbalance.

Read the entire Prices Byte.

The CEPR Recession Waste Clock Print
September 28, 2010

The current downturn had led to the worst period of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression. This suffering is especially tragic because, like the Great Depression, it is entirely the result of misguided economic policy.

Unemployment corresponds to lost production of goods and services. Construction workers could have been providing safe and energy efficient housing to people who lack adequate shelter, but instead they were left sitting idle. Manufacturing workers, who could have been producing more fuel-efficient cars and appliances, are instead getting unemployment checks. Health care workers who could have been ensuring that people received adequate care and teachers who could have been in classrooms, helping educate our children, are instead spending their time looking for work.

This is an incredible loss not only for these workers who must struggle to make ends meet, but also for our economy and society. The CEPR Recession Waste Clock allows people to see the value of the goods and services that we have lost in this downturn. It measures the gap between potential GDP (as calculated by the Congressional Budget Office) and actual GDP.

Given the current unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, the amount of lost GDP as measured by this gap increases at the rate of $2.873 billion per day. This comes to $120 million an hour, $2 million a minute or $33 thousand a second.

You can also see the amount of lost output measured in units of houses, college educations, or personal mp3 players.

The calculation of lost output is based on the gap between potential GDP as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office and actual GDP. The projection going forward assumes the same quarterly output gap as the last quarter for which data are available.

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