Bradley report shows stability in area economy

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The Peoria area economy showed stability in the second quarter, but indicators show little change should be expected in the short term, according to the quarterly Composite Index of Business and Economic Indicators for the region produced by Bradley University.

The second quarter index for the Peoria metropolitan statistical area (Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Stark and Marshall counties) was 98.9, little different from the first quarter index, said the report from Bradley’s Center for Business and Economic Research. Some areas showed improvement in the quarter and offset those that showed decline.

The Composite Index for the Peoria-Pekin MSA reflects business activity on a seasonally adjusted basis, with an Index score of 100 corresponding to local business conditions in the first quarter of 2000.

The Center for Business and Economic Research, which is part of the Foster College of Business of Bradley University, reviews more than 30 diverse business indicators in its quarterly assessment, which is funded by the Peoria Journal Star. 

“The data show overall stability in local business conditions, as area residents and employers cope with a changing business environment, with declines found in some areas offset by growth in others,” said Bernard Goitein, executive director of the Center for Business and Economic Research. “In the short term, local leading indicators for the economy are mixed, signaling little overall change in business conditions in the short term.”

Among the findings in the report, the number of unemployment filings went down in the second quarter by 3.5 percent compared with the first quarter, contributing to a decline of 0.4 percent in the unemployment rate.

However, the number of jobs also dropped, by 0.9 percent, which Goitein said signifies people leaving jobs and not taking other work. When that happens, he said, it reduces the number of people who are working, which it did by 1.5 percent from the first quarter to the second.

The job declines were in three of the six industries studied – construction, manufacturing and health care. There were job increases in professional and business services and in hospitality/entertainment.

In manufacturing, there was a 3.5 percent decline in the second quarter, bringing manufacturing employment down 7.4 percent from a year earlier. Employment in Professional and Business Services was up 0.7 percent from the previous quarter, but remained 3.0 percent below the year before.

The report showed little change since the first quarter in the overall number of advertised job openings by employers, with the number of new job openings remaining 3.3% below the year before.

Estimated retail sales were up 3.5 percent from the same period a year earlier and hospital revenues increased 4.2 percent. However, Goitein said, when accounting for inflation seasonally adjusted retail spending showed little change from the first quarter.

The supply of homes up for sale locally was 6.5 percent higher in the quarter, helping put the number of homes for sale 7.4 percent above the year before. The increase in number of homes available for sale was not associated with change in number of homes sold since the year before. With more homes available for sale than last year and no change in the number of purchasers, sold prices were off 6.8 percent from last year, the report said.

The number of single family building permits taken by area builders was down 41.6 percent from the previous quarter, leaving permits 17.9 percent below last year. Declines in construction employment were also found, with these jobs down 1.5 percent from the previous quarter and off 3.7 percent from the year before.

Goitein noted that the oldest of the baby boomers have reached retirement age or will do so, with many leaving the labor force. “The increased number of those retiring should open up jobs for younger labor force members, even as those retiring continue to purchase goods and services, place their homes for sale and create demand for their next homes,” he said.

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).