The drop was led by big declines in housing units authorized by building permits and help wanted advertising. Those outweighed moderate gains in local stock prices and the outlook for the national economy.
The index, lower for the third month in a row, also showed smaller upticks in initial claims for unemployment insurance and consumer confidence.
USD professor Alan Gin said moves in one direction for three months in a row normally indicate a change in an economy’s direction.
“But that might not be the case in this situation, given that the decline was so small and that there were more advancing components than declining ones,” Gin said. “At this point, the outlook for the local economy is mixed.”
He said local job growth will continue through the first half of next year, but the pace is already slowing.
“There appears to be enough momentum in the local economy to prevent a downturn, particularly with the national economy continuing to add large numbers of jobs despite weak growth in the Gross Domestic Product,” Gin said. “The data in the coming months will be significant in determining whether there will be further weakness in the local economy or whether this is an aberration similar to that seen in the summer of last year.”
Local governments issued fewer housing permits in July than any month since December 2014, according to the professor. It was the fifth straight month of decline for the sector.
He said there was less help wanted advertising for the fourth month in a row.
In July, the index stood at 139.8. To put it in perspective, that figure is higher than all but two months last year and a little above the January and February marks of this year. The recession-era low was 100.7 in March 2009, while the post-recession high was 140.7 in April of this year.
—City News Service
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