Leading Economic Indicators Down in August

October 5, 2006 --The University of San Diego's Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County fell 0.6 percent in August.  The decline was led by big negative moves in initial claims for unemployment insurance and consumer confidence.  Building permits, local stock prices, and the outlook for the national economy were also down, but only slightly.  The only positive component was help wanted advertising, which registered a small gain.  

Index of Leading Economic Indicators 
The index for San Diego County that includes the components listed below (August) 
Source: University of San Diego 
- 0.6 % 
Building Permits 
Residential units authorized by building permits in San Diego County (August) 
Source: Construction Industry Research Board 
- 0.11% 
Unemployment Insurance 
Initial claims for unemployment insurance in San Diego County, inverted (August - estimated) 
Source: Employment Development Department 
- 1.63% 
Stock Prices 
San Diego Stock Exchange Index (August) 
Source: San Diego Daily Transcript 
- 0.23%
Consumer Confidence 
An index of consumer confidence in San Diego County (August) 
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune
- 1.19% 
Help Wanted Advertising 
An index of print and online help wanted advertising in San Diego (August) 
Source: Monster Worldwide, San Diego Union-Tribune
+ 0.17% 
National Economy 
Index of Leading Economic Indicators (August) 
Source: The Conference Board 
- 0.42% 

The decline in August was the fifth in a row for the USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators.  The breadth of the decline continues to be broad, with five of the six components in the Index down for the second consecutive month.  As a result, the short-term outlook remains the same as indicated last month: A slowing in the local economy beginning at the end of 2006 and carrying through at least the first part of 2007.  Some of the causes of this weakness include a slowing in the national economy, continued difficulties in the housing market, and the negative impacts of previously high oil and gas prices.  Although slowing, a full-blown recession with significant job losses is not expected for the San Diego economy.

Highlights: Residential units authorized by building permits fell after strong months in June and July.  Permits were boosted in those months by a surge in multifamily permits.  However, multifamily permits dropped to their lowest level of the year in August. . . There was mixed news for the labor market variables.  Initial claims for unemployment insurance continue to rise (a negative for the Index) from historically low levels, indicating a slight pickup in job loss for the local economy.  On the positive side was help wanted advertising, with online advertising surging after being relatively flat since February.  The sectors showing the strongest growth were food services, education, and construction.  The net result was that the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in August compared to 4.4 percent in the same month last year. . . Consumer confidence remains weak, with the local consumer confidence index falling to its lowest level since September 2005.  The trend in consumer confidence has now been negative for five straight months. . . Local stock prices did not benefit from a more than four percent increase in the NASDAQ Composite Index in August. . . The national Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell for the second month in a row and for the fourth time in five months.  Economic forecasters ranging from UCLA's Anderson Forecast to the International Monetary Fund are forecasting that growth in the national economy will fall below the 3 percent mark in 2007.  This is below the 3.5. percent level that economists indicate is necessary to generate enough job growth to maintain the current unemployment rate.

August's increase puts the Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County at 141.4, down from July's revised reading of 142.2.  Revisions in building permits, consumer confidence, and the national Index of Leading Economic Indicators caused the previously reported change of -0.1% to be revised downward to -0.2%.   The values for the Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County for the last year are given below:


% Change
2005 AUG 142.6 +0.1%
SEP 142.1 -0.4%
OCT 142.1 +0.0%
NOV 142.7 +0.4%
DEC 143.0 +0.3%
2006 JAN 143.2 +0.1%
FEB 143.8 +0.4%
MAR 144.2 +0.3%
APR 143.8 -0.3%
MAY 142.8 -0.7%
JUN 142.5 -0.2%
JUL 142.2 -0.2%
AUG 142.2 -0.2%

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For more information on the University of San Diego's Index of Leading Economic Indicators, please contact:

Professor Alan Gin 
School of Business Administration 
University of San Diego 
5998 Alcalá Park 
San Diego, CA 92110 
TEL: (858) 603-3873 

FAX: (858) 484-5304 

E-mail: agin@san.rr.com