Comerica Bank’s Michigan Index improves

DETROIT—Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index increased a bit in March, but economists at the bank say it’s not much to get excited about.

The index rose 0.1 percent in March to a level of 117.6, from 117.5 in February.

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

In March, bank economists said, five out of those nine components were positive—nonfarm employment, housing starts, house prices, total state trade, and hotel occupancy. Three components were negative—unemployment insurance claims, industrial electricity demand, and light vehicle production. State sales tax revenue was unchanged.

Economists noted that the Michigan index still shows little upward momentum, and that it’s actually down 0.8 percent from a year earlier. “We expect the Michigan economy to keep expanding this year, but at a weak pace, consistent with the flat trend in our Michigan Index,” they said in a news release.

All data in the index are seasonally adjusted, and nominal values are converted to constant dollar figures. The index is also expressed as a three-month moving average.

March’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 for all of 2018 and 118.3 for all of 2017.

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