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Local economic indicators show positive trend

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On the surface, the third quarterly index that measures the Peoria area economy shows there wasn’t much change from the second quarter or from a year ago. But hidden inside the summary index are signs the economy is headed in the right direction.

The Summary Index for the Peoria-Pekin Metropolitan Statistical Area was 96.3 in the third quarter, which is little changed from 95.6 a year ago, though it maintains gains made earlier. But Bernard Goitein, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Bradley University, said there “a lot of positive signs” within the index.

“All four of the leading indicators are up from a year ago, and three are up from the last quarter. On the whole, this is a good report,” Goitein said.

The Center for Business and Economic Research has compiled and analyzed leading, coincident and lagging indicators  ̶  more than 30 of them in total  ̶  and formed the Summary Index for the Peoria Journal Star since 1991 and is copyrighted by Bradley.

According to Goitein, among the positive signs are the labor market indicators, including the fact there was growth in the number of “quits” or voluntary separations from the workforce when compared with the number of involuntary job losses. The quits, which he said indicate people going to another job, leaving the labor force altogether such as in retirement or possibly starting their own business, outnumbered the number fired or laid off. That, he added, was on the national scale, as well.

“Here, we have fewer people working than in the second quarter but we also have fewer unemployment claims. That tells me there were more who left their jobs voluntarily,” Goitein said. He added most of the quits came in the health care and hospitality industries.

Asked about whether the lower unemployment numbers could simply indicate more people gave up on finding work, Goitein said that theory is less valid when looking at the number of voluntary separations who left the job market altogether.

He said that also explains why the local unemployment rate of 7.3 percent was basically unchanged from the second quarter but was much improved from the rate of 9.4 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

Another positive indicator is that the number of advertised job openings in the region shows that employers “are eager to fill the jobs people are leaving or they are filling jobs that have remained vacant for a while or even creating jobs. That is a positive thing,” Goitein said.

Other indicators that showed economic growth as well as improved consumer confidence were in retail sales and home sales, both up from last year. Also, single family building permits increased throughout the metro area, not just in the areas affected by the Nov. 17, 2013 tornado that ravaged much of Washington and parts of East Peoria and Pekin.

The increase in building permits shows that money is being spent in the region but also that construction workers are working; Goitein said constructions jobs were considerably higher than in the third quarter last year.


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).