RALEIGH – North Carolina’s economy may not be getting any better – but it’s also not getting worse which is “good news” to N.C. State economist Dr. Mike Walden.

Citing his monthly NCSU Index of Leading Economic Indicators, Walden says the latest data (April) “was unchanged from its previous reading. I consider this good news.  It means whatever kind of economic slowdown North Carolina will have in the coming months, the latest information suggests it hasn’t gotten worse.  The glass may have moved above half-full!”

For example, North Carolina’s unemployment rate ticked downward in April to 3.4% in April, according to federal data.

The new data also comes a day after a new report says the U.S. economy grew more than first thought in the opening quarter of the year.

NCSU Index graphic

However, not all the indicators are positive.

“[T] he bad news is three of the five components of the Index showed deterioration. The national index, building permits, and manufacturing earnings all fell,” Walden says.

“However, there was one decline that was a bright spot – initial claims for unemployment fell over 7% from March.”

Average manufacturing hours also “eked out a small 0.1% gain,” he noted.

NCSU Index graphic

Walden’s take on all the data:

“What do these numbers tell us? With no reversal in the decline the Index has experienced over the last year, the implication is the North Carolina economy will continue to slow. But with no change in the Index, the message is the degree of slowing will not worsen.

“With so much uncertainty and worry currently present, the conclusion of  ‘it may not be as bad as we once thought’ could be considered uplifting! My mother once told me, ‘Don’t dismiss small favors.'”

About the Index: The Index is composed of five components: the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI)’s Weekly Leading Index (http://www.businesscycle.com/resources/), North Carolina initial claims for unemployment benefits, North Carolina building permits, average weekly hours of work of all North Carolina employees in manufacturing, and average weekly earnings of all North Carolina employees in manufacturing. All data are seasonally-adjusted and modified for differences in prices levels where appropriate. Data are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and ECRI, whose permission to use their Weekly Leading Index is greatly appreciated. All calculations are done by Dr. Michael Walden, and comments can be sent to michael_walden@ncsu.edu.

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