Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Index plunges

DETROIT—The Michigan Economic Activity Index compiled by Comerica Bank fell sharply in April to a level of 103 from 114.5 in March.

Bank officials say the steep drop shows the full economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, as auto production ground to a near-halt.

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 trade, hotel occupancy and sales tax revenue. Eight of those indices fell in April. The only index component to rise was the house price index.

Bank officials noted that the number of Michiganders receiving unemployment benefits has skyrocketed from a pre-crisis level of about 80,000 to nearly 1 million in April. They noted that by June, that number had declined, but remains very high at 727,000.

April’s reading was only 5 percent above the index’s cyclical low of 97.9, reached at the bottom of the last recession in 2007-09.

In the index, all data are seasonally adjusted, converted to constant dollar values, and expressed as a three-month moving average.

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