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Graphic Economics

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



Weekly Change in Mortgage Applications Index, Feb 2010 - Apr 2012 Print
April 24, 2012

Because of the monthly swings in housing releases — such as new and existing home sales and starts — it is always best to try to use averages of several months’ data (as the Case-Shiller index does) and to factor in all the available data on the market. The mortgage application index generally provides a good gauge of the underlying strength of the market. This weekly index is also volatile, but taking a one-or two-month average shows no clear upward trend from year-ago levels. Of course, investors often will not use standard mortgages to finance house purchases, thus insofar as the percentage of investor-purchased homes rises or falls, this will not be picked up by the mortgage application index.

hmm-2012-04-ge

For more, check out the latest Housing Market Monitor.

 
Growth in Real Earnings and Real Earnings Net of Additional Payroll Taxes Print
April 23, 2012

Even if the Social Security trust fund should run out in 2033 and the program should have to be made whole with additional payroll taxes, the loss to workers will be very small in comparison to their projected increases in pre-tax earnings. This is particularly true considering that the uncertainty concerning earning growth is much greater than any effect of the increase in payroll taxes.

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For more, read the latest Social Security Byte.

 
Change in Real Wages, Jan 2007 - Mar 2012 Print
April 6, 2012

One very discouraging item in the latest jobs report was a 0.1 hour drop in the length of the average workweek. While the data are erratic, the drop was driven largely by a decline of 0.3 hours in nondurable manufacturing, a sector where hours tend to be better measured. Wages continue to go nowhere. The average hourly wage has increased at just a 1.85 percent annual rate over the last quarter, which likely puts it behind inflation. The wage for production non-supervisory workers, which better tracks the median wage, increased at just a 1.37 percent annual rate over this period.

jobs-2012-04-ge

For more, check out the latest Jobs Byte.

 
Reining in Health Care Costs Key to Long-Run Deficits Print
April 5, 2012

health-care-gdp

For more, check out the updated CEPR Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator.

 
Inflation-adjusted Owners' Equivalent Rent, Jan 2007 - Feb 2012 Print
March 27, 2012

There have been some reports that rents have been rising in many areas, ostensibly due to the fact that people who have lost their homes are now being forced to find rental housing that is in short supply. This really does not make sense as a national phenomenon. Rental vacancy rates continue to be at near-record levels, exceeded only by the peaks reached in 2009 and 2010 near the trough of the recession.

There also is zero evidence of upward pressure on rents in the CPI series. The owners’ equivalent rent series, which pulls out the impact of utilities and exclusively measures rent of shelter, is below its pre-recession level after adjusting for inflation. If anything, it has trended slightly downward over the last two years. This index includes all housing units, not just those on the market, so it will have more inertia than an index that just measured market rents, but it is difficult to imagine that market rents could have risen too rapidly if the CPI series is showing a real decline.

hmm-2012-03-ge

For more, check out the latest Housing Market Monitor.

 
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