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BACKGROUND

The Current Conditions Index (CCI) is a monthly indicator that details the present state of the Rhode Island economy by following the behavior of twelve key economic indicators pertaining to housing, retail sales, fiscal pressures, the employment situation, and labor supply:

  • Government Employment
  • Employment Services Jobs*
  • Retail Sales
  • University of Michigan US Consumer Sentiment Index**
  • Single-Unit Housing Permits
  • Private Service-Producing Employment***
  • Manufacturing Man-hours****
  • Average Hourly Manufacturing Wage
  • Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate
  • Resident Labor Force
  • New Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance
  • Unemployment Insurance Regular Benefit Exhaustions

The CCI ranges from 0, when no indicators improve compared to year-earlier levels, to 100, when all twelve show improvement. Values above 50, the "neutral" value, indicate that the Rhode Island economy is expanding, while values below 50 are indicative of contraction. Prior to "The Great Recession" that began in June of 2007, the CCI had never attained a value of 0, indicating that no indicators improved relative to year-earlier values. This changed in 2008, when the CCI fell to 0 on three occasions, and in 2009, when another value of 0 was recorded. Prior to this, the low for the CCI had been 8, which occurred for only a single month on several occasions. For almost all of 2008, the CCI recorded values of 8. The CCI attained its maximum value of 100 on several occasions, for almost all of 1984 and once in 1986. Note that these values occurred exclusively when Rhode Island was still a manufacturing-based economy.

*
Up until February 2006, the CCI used Help Wanted Advertising for Providence, RI as one of its indicators (and toward the end of its use an econometric adjustment was required). This indicator replaces Help Wanted Advertising.
** Prior to the October 2001 report, the CCI used Existing Home Sales in Rhode Island. This indicator replaces Existing Home Sales. 
*** Prior to the January 2003 report, Miscellaneous Service Employment, a major category of the SIC codes, was used. Now that NAICS replaces the SIC codes, the current indicator was chosen to replace Miscellaneous Service Employment.
****Beginning with the November 2005 report, Manufacturing Man-hours will be referred to as Total Manufacturing Hours.

 


THE CCI THIS MONTH
MONTHLY HIGHLIGHTS:

AUGUST 2014: 75

 

 

August will turn out to be the most significant month thus far in 2014 for two reasons. First, in August, Rhode Island was able to sustain the improved momentum we witnessed in July, as the Current Conditions Index matched its July value of 75, which had been its highest thus far in 2014. Second, and most importantly, August brought with it the one “signal” we were sorely in need of this year: after a string of twelve consecutive months where the CCI had failed to beat its year-earlier values, at long last, the CCI for August of this year exceeded its value from last August. So, the major negative related to consecutive disappointments in our state’s economic performance relative to a year ago has ended at twelve. The implication of both of these factors is critical: we appear to have transitioned from a period where the current recovery was becoming less broadly based into one where economic momentum is increasing. That, as the saying goes, is a big deal!

 

Along with this good news it is important to keep in mind the central role that our goods-producing sector has played: both housing and manufacturing have continued to move well beyond their cyclical troughs, helping us to sustain our fluctuating cyclical momentum. So, as Rhode Island moves farther into the second half of 2014, our state’s economic performance might not have decoupled from the accelerating national economy after all. Stay tuned!

 

In August, four of the five leading indicators contained within the Current Conditions Index improved. The one leading indicator that failed to improve, Single-Unit Permits, which reflects new home construction, had previously turned in a string of strong performances. This volatile indicator declined by 8.6 percent in August relative to its value last year.

 

Total Manufacturing Hours, which measures strength in our manufacturing sector, rose once again in August (+1.1%), but August growth was substantially slower than it was in July, as manufacturing employment rose but the length of the workweek fell slightly. As has been true for some time now, the Manufacturing Wage declined, for a sixth consecutive time in August, by a difficult to believe 4.6 percent.

 

Government Employment 0.0
US Consumer Sentiment 0.2 Y
Single-Unit Permits  -8.6
Retail Sales 3.7 Y
Employment Services Jobs 2.2 Y
Priv. Serv-Prod Employment 1.8 Y
Total Manufacturing Hours 1.05 Y
Manufacturing Wage -4.6
Labor Force 0.4 Y
Benefit Exhaustions -12.7 Y
New Claims -20.5 Y
Unemployment Rate (change) -1.9 Y
Y = Improved Value

 

New Claims, which is a leading labor market indicator, fell at a double-digit rate (-20.5%) for the second consecutive month, raising the likelihood that this indicator will resume a downward trend. Employment Service Jobs, which includes temporary employment, and is a prerequisite to employment growth, rose for the second time since last November (+2.2%), growing at almost twice the July rate.  Finally, US Consumer Sentiment rose in August (+0.2%), ending a string of three consecutive declines.

 

Retail Sales remained strong in August, increasing by 3.7 percent compared to a year ago. This indicator has now improved for ten of the last twelve months. Private Service-Producing Employment rose by 1.8 percent in August, sustaining a rate of growth among its highest in the past year. As has been the case for quite some time, Government Employment failed to improve once again. But, instead of declining, as it has for a while, it remained unchanged in August. Its recent performance strongly points to it bottoming at 60,000. Benefit Exhaustions, which reflects longer-term unemployment, fell 12.7 percent relative to a year ago. August was the fourth double-digit improvement for this indicator in the last five months.

 

Finally, Rhode Island’s Labor Force rose by 0.4 percent versus a year ago in August, its third consecutive increase, although it declined relative to July. Along with this, our state’s Unemployment Rate remained at 7.7 percent, sustaining its well-above-average national and regional level.

 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

August’s economic performance may well mark a turning point for this recovery: not only did the Current Conditions Index match its prior high thus far for 2014, we also witnessed an end to the twelve-month consecutive string where the CCI had failed to improve on its year-earlier values. So, if the strength displayed in July and August is sustained, Rhode Island’s recovery will have become more broadly based, think of it as shifting into a higher gear, one that could allow Rhode Island to further close the gap between its performance and that of the overall US economy.

 

  

Monthly CCI Values (red = recession)
(Note: These are revised values. Original reports sometimes specify different CCI values, based on originally released data.

Jan   Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1983 42   58 58 67 75 83 83 75 83 83 83 92
1984 100   92 100 100 100 100 100 92 100 92 92 83
1985 67   75 75 75 67 75 67 50 50 58 83 67
1986 75   83 100 92 92 83 92 92 92 92 92 67
1987 67   67 58 58 67 75 75 75 75 67 75 75
1988 83   83 75 67 67 67 58 50 67 58 50 58
1989 67   50 50 33 58 33 25 25 25 33 33 33
1990 25   25 25 25 17 17 17 17 33 17 25 25
1991 25   17 17 8 25 17 25 25 25 33 17 17
1992 42   42 58 75 75 83 75 67 67 83 83 92
1993 75   83 67 67 83 67 75 75 75 58 42 58
1994 58   67 67 58 58 75 67 67 67 67 83 75
1995 58   58 58 67 50 42 42 42 58 33 67 42
1996 50   42 75 75 67 75 75 67 75 92 83 92
1997 100   92 83 75 67 75 75 75 83 75 92 83
1998 83   75 75 75 75

75

75 67 58 75

75

50

1999 83   75 75 83 67 83 75 75 92 75 83 58
2000 83   83 83 67 42 50 58 50 58 67 67 67
2001 42 33 25 17 33 50 25 33 33 42 33 42
2002 58   75 67 58 42 33 50 50 58 67 67 50
2003 50   50 50 58 58 58 83 67 83 75 92 67
2004 67   67 58 67 58 58 67 67 67 58 50 67
2005 50   67 50 50 42 75 58 67 42 58 58 67
2006 58   58 67 58 33 50 33 58 75 83 58 67
2007 50   50 33 33 58 50 33 33 17 17 8 25
2008 8 8 8 17 8 0 8 0 8 0 8 8
2009 17 8 0 8 17 33 17 42 33 42 50 33
2010 42   58 67 67 75 75 83 83 67 67 75 83
2011 50 67 67 58 50 58 58 42 50 50 58 50
2012 58   50 58/75 50/75 58/67 67/75 50/58 67/75 50/58 75/83 75/83 92
2013 75   67 83 67 83 75 75 67

75

75 67 75
2014 75   58 58 58 67 50 75 75        

You can download monthly reports in PDF format starting
with January 1999 by clicking on the monthly index value.
getacro.gif (776 bytes)

 

Historical Annual CCI Values

1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
42
54
33
74
96
67
88
69
65
39
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998

1999

22
21
70
69
67
51
72
81
72
77
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
65
39
56
66
63
57
54
40
7
24
2010 2011 2012 2013            
70 55 74 76            

 

Annual CCI Values

Copyright © 2008,2009, 2010Leonard Lardaro, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

 

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