Comerica Bank’s Texas Economic Activity Index declined 0.3 points in March to 132.5. March’s index reading is 37 points, or 39 percent, above the index cyclical low of 95.5. The index averaged 128.5 points for all of 2017, three and nine-tenths points above the average for 2016. February’s index reading was 132.8.
The Comerica Bank Texas Economic Activity Index ticked down in March following a slight decline in February.
Six of the nine index components were positive in March, including nonfarm payrolls, unemployment insurance claims (inverted), housing starts, house prices, drilling rig count and total state trade.
Three index components were negative for the month including industrial electricity demand, hotel occupancy and state sales tax revenues.
The components that have recently trended lower are coming off of historical highs, yet remain well above year ago levels. In particular, our hotel occupancy sub-index has seen four consecutive monthly declines. This is a renormalization to pre-hurricane levels following the temporary spike in demand for hotel rooms from those displaced by last year’s storm and aid-workers.
This is different than the typical decline in hotel occupancy caused by a significant slowdown in business activity or tourism associated with a winddown of an economic cycle. On the contrary, the pace of hiring in Texas has accelerated in recent months. Texas averaged approximately 39,000 jobs per month in the first four months of 2018. A rebound in energy related activity and continued strong in-migration are supporting growth in the Texas manufacturing, construction and private services industries. We expect our Texas Index to increase through the second half of this year.
The Texas Economic Activity Index consists of nine variables, as follows: nonfarm payroll employment, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, house price index, industrial electricity sales, Texas rotary rig count, total trade, hotel occupancy and sales tax revenue.
All data are seasonally adjusted. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Total index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.
Comerica Bank is a subsidiary of Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA), the largest U.S. commercial bank headquartered in Texas, strategically aligned by three business segments: The Business Bank, The Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Comerica focuses on relationships, and helping people and businesses be successful. In addition to a local banking center network throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Kerrville, Texas, Comerica Bank locations can be found in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, with select businesses operating in several other states, as well as in Canada and Mexico.