Michael Toma

Economic Monitor for 3rd Quarter Now Available

(November 27, 2011) Armstrong Atlantic State University has officially released the Coastal Empire Economic Monitor for the third quarter of 2011, detailing economic trends impacting the Savannah metro area and offering economic forecasts for 2012. The complete report is available at http://www.armstrong.edu/economic_monitor.

The latest Coastal Empire Economic Monitor reports that the Savannah metro economy continued to expand, albeit at a slow pace, for the seventh consecutive quarter. Several indicators weakened during third quarter, but consumer and tourism indicators buoyed the index overall. The Coastal Empire leading economic index increased for the second consecutive quarter, while the forecasting index continues to point toward improvement in economic conditions for the first half of 2012.

“The bright spots in the regional economy this quarter were the continued strength of the tourism industry and emerging signs that metro area consumers are beginning to spend more freely,” said Dr. Michael Toma, director of Armstrong's Center for Regional Analysis, which publishes the Economic Monitor. “The current expectation is that conditions will show continued improvement in 2012.”

Highlights from the latest Coastal Empire Economic Monitor include the following:
  • The Coastal Empire coincident economic index increased 0.5 percent to 151.7 during the third quarter of 2011.
  • Consumer spending -- measured by retail sales tax receipts, along with hotel and motel sales -- grew in sufficient strength to offset modest declines among other coincident indicators.
  • The seasonally adjusted number of new residential homes permitted for construction increased eight percent, and is approximately 10 percent higher than data from one year ago.
  • Seasonally adjusted employment in the Savannah metro area decreased 400 workers, settling at 149,400 on a quarterly basis.
  • The goods-producing side of the economy held steady at 19,400 including 13,700 manufacturing workers.
  • Initial claims for unemployment insurance decreased 1.6 percent, falling to 1,219 claims per month. This marks a drop of nearly 40 percent compared to data from one year ago.
  • Employment, electricity sales, airport boardings, port activity and consumer confidence fell modestly as compared to the previous quarter.
  • Year-to-date hotel sales are up about seven percent through the third quarter as compared to 2010.
  • Consumer activity experienced growth of nearly one percent (+7% year-to-date) in inflation and seasonally adjusted retail sales. This comes amid falling consumer confidence in south Atlantic states and suggests some resiliency in local spending.

The Coastal Empire leading economic index increased 2.1 percent during the third quarter of the year, rising to 119 from 117.4 (revised) in the previous quarter. The rate of increase in the forecasting index tapered off during the third quarter, but still remains healthy.

“Fourth quarter growth may be quite modest,” said Toma. “However, the forecasting index is pointing toward improving economic conditions in 2012, which is good news for the local economy.”

The Economic Monitor presents quarterly economic trends and short-term economic forecasts for Savannah's Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The quarterly report measures the heartbeat of the local economy, based on the analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the City of Savannah, Georgia Power and the three counties in the MSA—Chatham, Bryan and Effingham. The report presents a short-term forecast of the region's economic activity in the next six to nine months. The Economic Monitor is available free by electronic mail. To subscribe, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).