Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Index inches up

DETROIT—Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index increased 0.1 percent in February to a level of 117.5, putting the brakes on a three-month slide.

The index is comprised of nine variables—nonfarm payroll employment, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, a house price index, industrial electricity sales, auto assemblies, total Michigan trade, hotel occupancy, and sales tax revenue.

For the month, just three of the nine index elements—housing starts, house prices, and nonfarm employment—were positive. But the housing start number was so strong that it pushed the overall index up a fraction. However, the index is still down 0.8 percent in February 2019 compared to where it was in February 2018.

The index hit 117.5 in April 2016, meaning that the state’s economy has seen little growth over the past three years. Statewide employment has grown by just 3,600 in those three years.

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

February’s reading is 20 points, or 20 percent, above the index cyclical low of 97.9, reached at the bottom of the last recession in 2007-09. The index averaged 118.4 points for all of 2018, 0.1 points above the index average for 2017. January’s index reading was revised to 117.4.

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