U.S. economy grew faster than expected in first quarter

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in the first three months of 2018, the Commerce Department said Friday. The results were slightly above Wall Street analysts’ forecasts of 2 percent annual growth rate and represented an expected slowing from the fourth quarter’s 2.9 percent growth rate. The Commerce Department report was the first since President Trump’s tax cut took effect on January 1. The centerpiece of the tax overhaul was a reduction in corporate taxes aimed at boosting investment and jobs. Amid signs of labor market buoyancy, the Fed also raised its forecast, predicting the economy would grow this year at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, up from 2.5 percent in December. Employers around the country are reporting difficulty finding skilled workers with the unemployment rate at 4.1 percent and headed lower. First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell to 209,000 in the week through April 21, the lowest level since 1969. READ MORE HERE

US consumer spending rebounded 0.4 percent in March

Americans boosted their spending by 0.4 percent in March, the best showing in three months. Meanwhile, a key gauge of inflation closely watched by the Federal Reserve rose at the fastest pace in more than a year. Personal incomes advanced a moderate 0.3 percent in March, matching the February gain. An inflation gauge tied to consumer spending advanced 1.9 percent in March compared to 12 months ago. That was the fastest pace since a similar 12-month gain of 1.9 percent in February 2017. READ MORE HERE

Unemployment claims fall to 48-year low

First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to a 48-year low last week as the labor market shows further signs of tightening after years of steady growth. Claims plummeted to 209,000, a decrease of 24,000 in the week through April 21, from the previous week’s 232,000, the lowest level since Dec. 6, 1969, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The four-week moving average, a better gauge of the labor market’s health, fell by 2,250 claims to 229,250. New York accounted for the bulk of the drop, with the number of claims in the state dropping 18,402. A tighter labor market is starting to boost wages as employers try to hold on to their employees as the pool of skilled workers shrinks. Jobless claims remained below 300,000 for a record 164th straight week. READ MORE HERE

NEW! Get the AIM legislative update on your schedule!

Associated Industries of Missouri has provided a weekly video legislative update at 10:00 on Monday mornings since the beginning of the 2018 Legislative Session. We are changing the way we will deliver these updates to better suit your busy schedule. Effective immediately, we will no longer conduct the webinars at 10:00 on Monday mornings. If you have already registered for these webinars, you need to do nothing as you will receive a link to the video update and a password in your email. If you have not registered for these webinars, but would like to receive the new video, please send an email to Ray McCarty at rmccarty@aimo.com. We will return the link and password to you. Every attempt will be made to make these videos available on Fridays of each week. These legislative updates are provided as an exclusive member benefit to current members of Associated Industries of Missouri. Thank you for your support of AIM!

Associated Industries of Missouri endorses Rep. Kevin Corlew in Missouri Senate race

April 26, 2018 – Associated Industries of Missouri announced today the organization is supporting Rep. Kevin Corlew (R) in his bid to replace former Senator Ryan Silvey in a special election to be held June 5, 2018. “Rep. Corlew’s use of his skills to help employers and promote jobs in Missouri makes our endorsement of him in this race a no-brainer,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Kevin is a consistent voice of reason for the businesses and voters in his district and across Missouri. His legal expertise will be extremely valuable in the Missouri Senate,” he said. Rep. Kevin Corlew scored a 91 vote rating on issues important to employers in the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. He faces Rep. Lauren Arthur (D) who scored a 27 vote rating for the same period on employer issues.

Trump taps USTR’s Gerrish as acting head of Export-Import Bank

President Trump has tapped Jeffrey Gerrish to be acting president of the Export-Import Bank. Gerrish, who recently joined the Trump administration, will maintain his role at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) while taking the helm of the 84-year-old agency. The White House didn’t provide information on when Gerrish would start at Ex-Im. The agency has been without a quorum since late 2015. Without a quorum, the bank can’t approve loans of more than $10 million. Trump’s first pick to helm the agency — former Republican Rep. Scott Garrett (N.J.) — failed to get through the Senate Banking Committee. Prior to joining USTR, Gerrish practiced international trade law for nearly 20 years at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom. READ MORE HERE

Marketing for Manufacturing Bootcamp

Most small to medium-sized manufactures do not have the manpower nor budgets to launch major marketing plans. But that is no excuse to sit back while everyone else is actively engaging YOUR customers. If you want to grow your business and connect with the right audience, you MUST be easily accessible with a click of a button or tap on a smart phone. With this four-hour workshop, you will not only complete the framework for your manufacturing marketing plan, but you will identify the gaps between what you are doing and what you should be doing to market your company. Plus, you will learn tactics to maximize social media marketing on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to develop your expert positioning, top of mind awareness, employee engagement and recruitment, website organic SEO, and drive website traffic. (Yes, social media strategies really can do all of that!) This is a hands-on workshop with capped attendance to help insure one-on-one time with

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