Armstrong's First 2012 Economic Monitor Released
(May 22, 2012) Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis has released the first Coastal Empire Economic Monitor for 2012. The latest Monitor sounds a note of cautious optimism and indicatesa modest increase in economic activity for the opening quarter but warns of overall slow growth for the upcoming year. The complete report is available online at www.armstrong.edu/economic_monitor.
Increases in regional home construction, port activity, local consumer spending and job growth, along with a brisk influx of spring tourism to the area, contributed to the rosier numbers for the current Economic Monitor. While these increases were seen across the board, more consistent growth needs to be established in the coming quarters before the outlook can be considered robust.
“There is a broadening base of encouraging data regarding the current condition of the regional economy,” explained Michael Toma, director of Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis. “Furthermore, the forecasting index is moving in the right direction and is suggesting the current pace of activity is sustainable through 2012.”
Highlights from the Spring 2012 Coastal Empire Economic Monitor include:
- The Coastal Empire coincident economic index rose 0.2% from 151.0 (revised) to 151.3, thanks in large part to growth in the regional employment base and an increase in port activity.
- Consumer spending increased by 5%, supported by improving conditions in both the labor market and housing market, and by tourism activity. In contrast to lower consumer confidence throughout the South Atlantic states, the increased retail sales activity indicates that consumers in the Savannah area are more confident in their economic outlook than their neighbors in other areas of the southeast.
- March hotel and motel tax receipts were 13% higher than the previous year, and employment in the local hospitality industry increased by 100 jobs. The 2012 St. Patrick’s Day festival, which fell on Saturday this year, had a role in this first quarter growth.
- The Coastal Empire leading economic index increased 1.5%, from 118.6 (revised downward) in the last quarter of 2011 to 120.4.
- The 1.5% increase marks the fastest growth since the second quarter of 2011.
- Better indicators from the housing market and consumer expectations, along with a decrease in unemployment insurance claims, were responsible for the leading economic index increase.
- Permits for new residential home construction saw sizable gains and rose 34% to levels not seen since mid-to-late 2009.
- Job growth in the Coastal Empire was moderate and reports of newly unemployed workers fell.
While many regional indicators of the economy are pointing in the direction of sustainable short-term growth, increased strength is required to complement the currently broadening base of support, from the labor and housing markets to consumer spending and port activity, to result in substantially improved long-term economic conditions.
Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis, housed in the university’s economics department, meets the applied research needs of Savannah's business and community organizations. Areas of concentrated research include regional economic forecasting, economic impact analysis, economic development and business expansion, tourism development, survey-based research and specialty reports on topics of state, regional and local interest.