Comerica Bank Michigan Economic Index falls for fourth straight month

DETROIT — Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index declined by 0.2 percent in September to a level of 117.2.

That’s the fourth consecutive monthly decline for the index, which consists of nine variables — non-farm payroll employment, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, housing prices, industrial electricity sales, auto assemblies, total trade, hotel occupancy, and sales tax revenue.

Bank officials noted that production of autos and light trucks has fallen 11 out of the last 12 months from year-earlier levels, with the replacement of autos lost during fall hurricane season expected to provide only temporary relief to a long-term sales decline.

Four out of nine components of the index were positive — payrolls, industrial electricity demand, hotel occupancy and sales tax revenue. Four were negative — auto assemblies, as noted, plus unemployment insurance claims, housing starts, vehicle production and total state trade. Housing prices were flat.

September’s reading was 19 points, or 20 percent, above the index cyclical low of 97.9, reached at the bottom of the last recession. The index averaged 117.1 points for all of 2016, one and four-fifths points above the index average for 2015. August’s index reading was revised up to 117.4.

Bank officials termed Michigan’s job growth “inconsistent over the past few years” and said they “expect to see only modest job growth for the state through next year.”

All data are seasonally adjusted. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.

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