Much of the country's economic health is being driven by the strength of the labor market.
- The unemployment rate of 4.7 percent is considered full employment
- Average job growth in 2017 has been 237,000 new jobs per month
- This is about 50,000 more new jobs per month than we saw in 2016
Increased employment should encourage spending and consumption well into 2017 and beyond.
Inflation is trending up to 1.7 percent, allowing the U.S. Federal Reserve to start tightening monetary policy.
- The interest rate hike that took place in March didn't cause a negative market reaction.
- This tells us the Fed is likely to continue with its plan to raise rates throughout this year.
An important number to watch for this month will be first-quarter GDP growth, which is scheduled to be released on April 28.
There are widely differing expectations for this number, ranging from 1 percent to 2.7 percent.
Historically, first quarter growth in the U.S. tends to be lower than the other three quarters, possibly due to seasonal adjustments in the data.
But overall, with employment trending up and household balance sheets strong, we expect GDP growth in the 2.0 to 2.5 percent range this year.