Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Index rises

DETROIT—Economists at Comerica Bank say the bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index rose to 109.7 in January from 108.0 in December.

The index is comprised of nine variables: nonfarm payroll employment, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, a housing price index, industrial electricity sales, auto assemblies, total trade, hotel occupancy, and sales tax revenue. All data are seasonally adjusted, converted to constant-dollar values, and expressed as a three-month moving average.

Despite the rise, only four of the nine index components were positive for the month—unemployment insurance claims, housing starts, house prices, and light vehicle production. Negative for the month were payroll employment, industrial electricity demand, total state trade, hotel occupancy, and state sales tax revenue.

Economists said they expect February and March data for Michigan will continue to be mixed, given a likely letdown in consumer spending in February and the fact that a global computer chip shortage is hampering auto production. On the plus side, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will begin showing up in figures for March and April, and consumer confidence improved significantly in March.

The increase was the seventh consecutive monthly rise in the index, after it hit its all-time bottom in June 2020, during the worst of the pandemic recession. The index averaged 105 points for all of 2020, 12.8 percentage points below the index average for all of 2019. summer.

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