NC State economist Walden creates leading indicators index

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N.C. State’s oft-quoted and influential economist Michael Walden has created a new index designed to provide a snapshot about where the state’s economy is headed, the News & Observer reports.

Walden has earned a reputation as a go-to resource for local and state government leaders, and last month accepted the UNC system’s highest award for public service.  His monthly Index of North Carolina Leading Economic Indicators will give business owners, politicians, economic recruiters and others a fresh source on North Carolina’s economic health looking four to six months ahead.

“I started it now because I receive a large volume of questions about the economic future,” Walden said. “Given the times, people are very interested in where the economy is going.”  For September, the index declined 0.8 percent from August, led by a large reduction in building permits and a decrease in weekly earnings in manufacturing. Compared to a year ago, the index was up 0.1 percent.

The index is based on five components, including initial claims for unemployment benefits and weekly hours of work for manufacturing employees. It’s modeled on the national leading index and similar indices in other states. Walden said he focused on components that are readily available on a timely basis each month. And manufacturing is a “leading sector.”

“It tends to fall before others do prior to a recession, and it tends to revive before the others do prior to a recovery,” he wrote. Find his new leading-indicators index online here.

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