Real-time data continues to provide valuable insight into the current state of the US economy even as traditional economic data is too slow to pick up changes that are occurring.
Today we revisit some of the real-time data points that we are monitoring and find that while there is clearly a long way to go, there are green shoots indicating the US economy is on the road to recovery. Following the COVID-19 lockdowns and business closures in March and April, all 50 states have now reopened to some extent and we can already see the impact of the reopening in the real-time data.
Map routing requests by the Apple maps app, shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, continued their steady increase from March/April lows and are now approaching pre-pandemic levels. More map searches means more driving, which means more people going to work or to stores and more economic activity.
Another real-time indicator that has come back strongly from being down 100% in March and April is the number of diners in US restaurants. While social distancing clearly puts a cap on the opportunity for restaurants, in states that reopened earliest diners have returned to levels almost halfway back from a year ago.
Even real-time data coming from the epicenter of the US COVID-19 outbreak is moving in the right direction. While not bouncing back quite as quickly as the prior data points, commuting in NY/NJ, as measured by public transit usage, is continuing to trend upward as people return to work and other economic activity.
While the real time data is encouraging there are still many challenges to a full economic recovery as some states such as Arizona and Texas, among others, are emerging as potential new hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks. Consumer confidence appears to be reflecting these concerns in that, having bottomed in mid May, it has recovered somewhat but is still at histrorically depressed levels.
“The market drives without a rear view mirror and only focuses on what’s happening today and the road ahead,” said LPL Financial Chief Investment Officer Burt White. “The good news is we’re seeing green shoots on the road to recovery in the timeliest data we can find.”
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