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Economy in Brief

State Coincident Indexes in October
by Charles Steindel  November 25, 2020

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's state coincident indexes in October were once again positive, but very mixed. 13 states saw increases of 10 percent or more in the three months since July, with Massachusetts once again way in the lead, with an increase of nearly 37 percent—almost double number 2 Vermont (one supposes relieved this year of the burden of expecting championships for the Red Sox and Patriots, Bay State residents have been able to concentrate on more mundane matters). On the other side, 2 states—Hawaii and Kentucky—have seen their indexes drop over this period. The comparable national index is up only 2.4 percent over the last three months, remaining strikingly at odds with the state readings (for instance, Texas's 2.9 percent increase was the smallest of any truly large state).

6 states (Utah, Arkansas, Nebraska, Georgia, Idaho, and Missouri) registered gains in their indexes over the last 12 months. The same number of states experienced declines greater than 10 percent; New York's 11.4 percent drop being the most salient for the national picture, while Hawaii's 30.7 percent plunge was more than twice as large as number 49 Maryland. Over the last month (September to October) two smaller states with very different economies, West Virginia and Rhode Island, clocked double-digit increases, with 8 states seeing declines. To get an idea of how idiosyncratic movements have recently been, Kentucky saw its index fall 4 ½ percent—more than 15 percentage points weaker than its West Virginia (Tennessee, though, also reported a drop). In general, as has recently been the case, northern industrial states tended to do better in September-October, though not all (for instance, New Jersey, which had been rising rapidly, fell).

With the general rebound, indexes in a number of states in October were above their pre-recession peak. These are Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, and Utah (Kentucky set a record high in September, prior to October's plunge). Hawaii is far and away the state furthest from its earlier peak, but a number of other states, including Nevada, New York, and West Virginia, have indexes at unusually low levels.

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