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Economy in Brief

State Coincident Indexes in August
by Charles Steindel  September 29, 2020

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's state coincident indexes were strong in August, though specific results continue be quite divergent. Every state except New Mexico reports a gain since May. Of that group, though, 7 had increases above 20 percent, led by Michigan's 46.6 percent surge, while 25 had increases of less than 10 percent. Once again, the state results seem completely at odds with the comparable national figures. For the nation as a whole, the Fed computed a 3.9 percent gain from May to August, but only 5 states (admittedly, one of them being Texas) had increases smaller than that (including New Mexico's loss). Over the last 12 months 3 states (Utah, Idaho, and Georgia) report gains. The scale of losses in the others was enormous, ranging from Nebraska's 0.3 percent to Hawaii's 29.4 (Hawaii's index actually soared 36.4 percent from May to August; the incredible divergence between the 3- and 12-month results shows the truly shattering impact the initial lockdowns and cessation of personal travel had on the islands). Rhode Island and Kentucky were the only states to report declines in their indexes in August; Massachusetts was on top (Ocean Staters were possibly overly-focused on crossing the border to Massachusetts to try to glimpse the Tom Brady-less Patriots at practice in Foxboro).

There doesn't seem to be a marked regional divergence in the index—the idiosyncracies seem to be linked to state peculiarities. Michigan's recent strength obviously reflects the restart of auto production, but the reasons for New Mexico's weakness don't appear to be obvious. Over the last 3 months, the very largest states have varied substantially, with California rather strong, Texas rather soft, and Florida and New York somewhere in the middle.

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