Comerica Bank’s California Index Still Climbing

The Comerica Bank California Economic Activity Index increased by 0.1 percent in July, marking the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Five out of eight index components were positive in July, including nonfarm payrolls, unemployment insurance claims (inverted), housing starts, house prices and the Dow Jones Technology Stock Index. The three negative components were industrial electricity consumption, total state trade and hotel occupancy. Job growth in California looks like it is easing this year after a long period of steady gains. Through 2013, 2014 and 2015 job growth averaged nearly 36,000 net new jobs per month. That eased to about 30,000 net new jobs per month in 2016, and then slowed further to 17,000 net new jobs per month through the first eight months of 2017.  This brought the state’s unemployment rate below 5 percent for the first time since late 2006.  Tight labor markets and a maturing tech cycle are expected to keep job growth well below the robust rates of 2013-2015 through this year and next. Fortunately, improving international conditions plus a weaker value of the dollar are positives for the state’s important trade sector. According to the California Association of Port Authorities, California ports are linked to about 25 percent of the state’s economy. For the 12 months ending in July, the value of California exports was up by 9.3 percent, while the value of imports declined by 1.4 percent.

The California Economic Activity Index consists of eight variables, as follows: nonfarm payrolls, exports, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, national defense spending, house prices, and the NASDAQ-100-Technology Sector Index (NDXT). All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2008. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.

Comerica Bank, with locations in the key California markets of San Francisco and the East Bay, San Jose, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Santa Cruz/Monterey, and the Inland Empire, is a subsidiary of Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA). Comerica is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and strategically aligned into three major business segments: the Business Bank, the Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Comerica focuses on relationships and helping businesses and people be successful.

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About the Author: Bob Cooper

Bob Cooper is Canadian Business Tribune''s senior editor. He is also a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and a bestselling author. He lives in London Ontario and covers the intersection of money, politics and finance. He appears periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) The National Post, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s,, Vice and He also has served as a journalist and consultant on documentaries for CBC and Global News . In 2014, he was the winner of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers' investigative journalism award, and the winner of the Izzy Award for Journalism from Ithaca College's Park Center for Independent Media. He was also a finalist for UCLA's Gerald R. Loeb Award and Syracuse University's Mirror Award. Before becoming a journalist in 2006, Sirota worked in Washington for, among others, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee Minority Staff and the Center for American Progress.