Sales at U.S. stores, restaurants and online retailers increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in April from the prior month, the largest gain in three months, the Commerce Department said Friday. Also, the University of Michigan reported its consumer-sentiment index rose to 97.7 in early May—the strongest reading since January, when sentiment reached a 13-year high.
San Francisco’s ever-rising minimum wage—set to hit $15 next year—has restaurant owners asking for the check. “At Least 60 Bay Area Restaurants Have Closed Since September,” read a January headline at the website SFist, which partly blamed “the especially high cost of doing business in SF, with a mandated, rising minimum wage that does not exempt tipped employees.” Another publication, Eater, described the rash of recent closures as a “death march.”
Labor costs, too, are on the rise. The construction industry unemployment rate, at 6.3% last month, has fallen back to its levels during the housing boom. On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that the quits rate—the share of people leaving construction jobs voluntarily and a sign that they think they can get new jobs easily—stood at 2.5% in March, the highest since early 2008.
Gross domestic product grew at a 0.7% annual rate in the first quarter from the preceding three months, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economic output has grown an average of roughly 2% during the nearly eight-year expansion.
During the latest expansion, new establishments have accounted for a little more than 11% of all new private-sector jobs created in the U.S. During the 1990s, the figure was 15%, according to Labor Department data released Wednesday.
That may seem a small shift, but those few percentage points add up to nearly 300,000 jobs a quarter. Separate data from the Commerce Department show the trend goes back even further. The share of private firms less than a year old has dropped from more than 12% during much of the 1980s to only about 8% since 2010.