More about the CFNAI

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) is a monthly index designed to better gauge overall economic activity and inflationary pressure. The CFNAI is released at 8:30 a.m. ET on scheduled days, normally toward the end of each calendar month.

 

A zero value for the index indicates that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth; negative values indicate below-average growth; and positive values indicate above-average growth.

Last Updated: 05/21/15

CFNAI Historical (Real-Time) Data

The CFNAI provides useful information on the current and future course of U.S. economic activity and inflation. A caveat in all statistical investigations of post-war business and inflation cycles is the relatively small number of recessions and periods of sustained increasing inflation. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the threshold values used to indicate the increasing likelihood of recessions and periods of sustained increasing inflation have been identified with the benefit of hindsight.


In response to the demand for additional research on "real-time" economic measures, we have begun releasing the history of the CFNAI in its entirety as it was originally made available at the time of release. For more information on the history of the CFNAI and its relation to business and inflation cycles, please see the Background Information available on this website. Finally, evaluation of a real-time indicator like the CFNAI requires the careful tracking of data revisions. The table provided below provides a sense of the extent to which data revisions, on average, have historically influenced the index.

CFNAI historical data are available in the following format: Excel
Key: CFMYYYY – CFNAI
  CF3MYYYY – CFNAI-MA3
  PIMYYYY – Production & Income
  EUHMYYYY – Employment, Unemployment & Hours
  CHMYYYY – Personal Consumption & Housing
  SOIMYYYY – Sales, Orders & Inventories
  "MYYYY" refers to data month and year.

Average Size of Month-to-Month Revisions

Note: T denotes the last month of the index at the time of release

Series T-1 T-2 T-3 T-4 T-5
CFNAI 0.17 0.18 0.07 0.05 0.03
CFNAI-MA3 0.09 0.07 0.03 0.03 0.03

CFNAI-MA3 and Business Cycles

CFNAI Business Cycle chart
Notes: Shading indicates official periods of recession as identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research. A CFNAI-MA3 value below –0.70 following a period of economic expansion indicates an increasing likelihood that a recession has begun. A CFNAI-MA3 value above –0.70 following a period of economic contraction indicates an increasing likelihood that a recession has ended. A CFNAI-MA3 value above +0.20 following a period of economic contraction indicates a significant likelihood that a recession has ended.

CFNAI-MA3 and Inflation Cycles

CFNAI Inflation Cycle chart
Notes: Shading represents periods of substantial inflation increases. A CFNAI-MA3 value above +0.70 more than two years into an economic expansion indicates an increasing likelihood that a period of sustained increasing inflation has begun. A CFNAI-MA3 value above +1.00 more than two years into an economic expansion indicates a substantial likelihood that a period of sustained increasing inflation has begun.