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Economy in Brief

State Coincident Indexes in April
by Charles Steindel  May 26, 2021

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's state coincident indexes in April show widespread dispersion of activity. In the three months ending in April the indexes for 49 states increased (Delaware again inched down). 15 states, scattered across the nation, (Hawaii and New Hampshire were in this group) showed gains in excess of 2 percent, with West Virginia up a remarkable 8.2 percent and Hawaii's index up 6.6 percent. California and New York were other members of the higher-growing group. In contrast, 15 states (including Delaware) clocked increases of less than 1 percent. Florida had the smallest gain of any of the very large states, up only .5 percent in this period.

A surprise were the figures on 12-month changes. April 2020 was the low point of the pandemic, and, as would be expected, 43 states report double-digit gains in their coincident indexes (Michigan up more than 70 percent; West Virginia was nearly as strong). What was surprising that Connecticut registered a gain of less than 1 percent, and Texas rose a fairly modest 7.1 percent. The national figure was up only 8.9 percent, which seems quite low compared to the individual state numbers (New York, California, and Florida were all up more than 20 percent).

The one-month changes from March to April were also dispersed. Four states—including Pennsylvania and Florida--saw declines, while West Virginia and Hawaii (two states one rarely groups together) each rose 2.3 percent.

The upshot appears to be that erratic patterns of recovery and growth could prevail for a while, given idiosyncratic responses of industries and states to the ebbing of the pandemic. For instance, the surge in Hawaii is obviously related to renewed travel and leisure activity—but Nevada appears to be growing substantially more slowly, and tourism would have much less to do with the recent surge in West Virginia. On the other side, Connecticut's weakness in the 3- and 12-month growth numbers (the Nutmeg State reported a decent rise in April) stands in contrast to a fair amount of strength in neighboring states.

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