Comerica Bank’s California Economic Activity Index was up by 0.1 points in March to 124.0. March’s reading is 26 points, or 27 percent, above the index cyclical low of 97.7. The index averaged 121.2 points in 2017, two and three-fifths points above the average for all of 2016. February’s reading was revised up to 123.9.
Comerica Bank’s California Economic Activity Index ticked up slightly in March, following an upward revision to February’s index reading.
The sub-indexes were mixed for March. Six of the eight sub-indexes were positive including nonfarm payroll employment, unemployment insurance claims (inverted), housing starts, house prices, industrial electricity demand and the Dow Jones Tech Stock Index. The two sub-indexes that were negative for March were state total trade and hotel occupancy. While our California Index showed only a modest gain in March, the longer-run trends of the underlying data series remain positive and are consistent with an ongoing moderate economic expansion for California this year. Limiting the upside growth to state economic activity in recent months was the slowdown in the pace of hiring in February and March. However, the state added a net 39,200 jobs in April, building some momentum for the California economy heading in the second half of 2018. Construction is the fastest growing sector in terms of the pace of hiring, with one-in-four jobs gained in the state attributed to the sector since the start of 2018. This is consistent with other positive data on the state’s housing sector. Our housing starts sub-index reading for March was the highest level since early 2007. Home prices also continue to climb, up 7.6 percent in San Diego, 8.1 percent in L.A. and 11.2 percent in San Francisco year-over-year in March.
The California Economic Activity Index consists of eight variables, as follows: nonfarm payroll employment, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, house price index, industrial electricity sales, total trade, technology stock index and hotel occupancy. 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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Comerica Bank, with locations in the key California markets of San Francisco and the East Bay, San Jose, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Santa Cruz/Monterey, and the Inland Empire, is a subsidiary of Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA). Comerica is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and strategically aligned into three major business segments: the Business Bank, the Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Comerica focuses on relationships and helping businesses and people be successful..