San Diego Lead Economic Indicators Up Sharply in Jan, 2015

The USD Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County rose 1.4 percent in January.  For the first time since February 2011, all six components of the USD Index were up during the month.  Leading the way to the upside were strong gains for initial claims for unemployment insurance, help wanted advertising, and building permits.  Bringing up the rear but also positive were consumer confidence, local stock prices, and the outlook for the national economy.

January’s gain was the eighth in a row for the USD Index and was the largest monthly increase since February 2011.  The strength of the move combined with the fact that all six components were positive signals a strong local economy at least through the end of 2015.  One potential area of concern was the surge in gas prices that occurred in February.  Gas prices rose more than 98 cents a gallon during the month, which has a number of negative effects.  First, money is taken directly out of the pockets of consumers.  By my estimate, every one cent increase in the price of gas takes a million dollars a month out of local economy, which means almost $100 million a month more will be spent on gas instead of on boosting the local economy.  Secondly, the price of shipping goods into San Diego increases, which boosts local prices.  Finally, rising gas prices could have a negative impact on consumer confidence.  Despite all these negatives, the rise in gas prices is not likely to significantly slow the local economy, let alone derail it.

Index of Leading Economic Indicators – The index for San Diego County that includes the components listed below (January).  Source:  USD Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate

Building Permits – Residential units authorized by building permits in San Diego County (January).  Source:  U.S. Census Bureau +1.34%
Unemployment Insurance – Initial claims for unemployment insurance in San Diego County, inverted (January).  Source:  Employment Development Department +2.51%
Stock Prices – San Diego Stock Exchange Index (January).  Source:  San Diego Daily Transcript +0.85%
Consumer Confidence – An index of consumer confidence in San Diego County , estimated (January).  Source: The Conference Board +0.89%
Help Wanted Advertising – An index of online help wanted advertising in San Diego (January).  Source: The Conference Board +2.44%
National Economy – Index of Leading Economic Indicators (January).  Source: The Conference Board



Residential units authorized by building permits broke a nine-month negative streak with a strong gain in January.  A strong raw number for the month was further boosted by seasonal adjustment, as January is usually the third worst month of the year for building permits . . . The labor market variables continue to show incredible strength.  The way the Index is calibrated, a change of one percent or more during a month is considered a significant change.  The increase for both initial claims for unemployment insurance and help wanted advertising topped two percent in January, which signals continued strength in the labor market.  As of the writing of this report, the data on the unemployment rate for January had not been released by the state’s Employment Development Department.  The previously reported seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 5.6 percent. . . Consumer confidence has now been positive for an entire year.  One of the likely causes of that is good news on the labor front, with the unemployment rate dropping significantly compared to a year ago.  Also contributing to the positive outlook for consumers is the big drop in gasoline prices.  It remains to be seen whether the big jump in gas prices in February will push confidence to the downside. . . Local stock prices bucked the national trend by increasing in January.  All of the major market averages were down during the month. . . With January’s increase, the national Index of Leading Economic Indicators has now been positive for 13 straight months, which includes every month in 2014.  The outlook for the national economy remains positive, although the second estimate of GDP growth for the fourth quarter showed growth in the national economy slowing to 2.2 percent, compared to 4.6 percent in the second quarter and 5.0 in the third quarter.

September’s increase puts the USD Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County at 134.2, up from December’s revised reading of 132.3.  Revisions in the national Index of Leading Economic Indicators for August, September, November, and December affected the previously reported Index levels and monthly change for those months.  For revisions to the previously reported values for the Index and for the individual components, please visit the Website address given below.  The values for the USD Index for the last year are given below:

          Index       % Change


JAN     127.6           +0.1

FEB     127.9           +0.2

MAR    128.6           +0.5

APR    127.9            -0.5

MAY    127.5            -0.3

JUN     127.7           +0.2

JUL     128.0           +0.3

AUG    128.3           +0.3

SEP     129.0           +0.5

OCT    129.7           +0.5

NOV    131.3           +1.2

DEC    132.3           +0.7


JAN     134.2           +1.4

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

Professor Alan Gin                             TEL:  (858) 603-3873

School of Business Administration        FAX:  (858) 260-4891

University of San Diego                            E-mail:

5998 Alcalá Park                                       Website:

San Diego, CA 92110                                Twitter:  @alanginusdsba


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