The Bryan School of Business and Economics

Center for Business and Economic Research

Current Guilford Business Index

Center for Business and Economic Research
Guilford Business Index
(May 2014)

Bryan School of Business & Economics – The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Index produced by Dr. G. Donald Jud

The level of economic activity in Guilford County, NC, as measured by the Guilford Business Index (1992 = 100), rose 0.1% in March (see Table 1).  The index, which tracks the pace of economic activity in Guilford County, has risen 3.0% over the last 12 months compared to a 1.0% increase recorded in the Triad at large.

Over the past 3 months, economic activity in Guilford County has risen at a 2.1% annualized rate compared to a 1.8% rate of decline recorded in the Triad.  

The Triad is defined as an eight-county area that is composed of Alamance, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, and Yadkin.

Guilford Business Index
(1992 = 100)
graph

Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate in Guilford County in March was 6.8%, down 0.1 percentage points from the revised figure for February.  The rate of unemployment this month is down 2.7 percentage points from the rate recorded 12 months ago.  The national rate in March was 6.7%, down 0.8 percentage points from one year ago.

The unemployment rate reflects the percentage of the labor force which is unemployed but actively seeking employment.  It generally is considered to be a lagging economic indicator.  The rate is tabulated each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics based on a nationwide survey of households.


Employment

The number of persons employed in Guilford County (from the household survey) stood at 234,200, essentially unchanged from February.  In comparison, national employment (from the household survey) was higher by 0.3% in March. Over the past 12 months, county employment has risen 1.6%, while at the national level, employment (from the household survey) also has grown 1.6%. 

The number that is reported here for persons employed in Guilford County is tabulated each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics based on its monthly household survey.  It reflects the number of persons living in Guilford County who reported they were actively employed during the month.  Employment normally is considered to by a very strong, consistent coincident indicator of economic activity.

Guilford County Employment
graph

Initial Claims

Initial claims represent first-time filers for unemployment compensation and are generally considered a leading indicator of the unemployment rate.  In March, initial claims dropped 13.6% and are down 63.8% over the year.  There were 978 first-time filers for unemployment insurance this month, or 0.4% of those employed in the county.   Nationally, claims were up 0.6% in March but are down 4.2% over the past 12 months.

Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance
graph

Consumer Spending

Consumer spending is normally thought to be a coincident indicator of economic activity.  Spending, as measured by retail sales, was off 0.1% in March, after correction for price-level change and seasonal variation.  Over the past year, retail sales have gained 0.9% in Guilford County, while, at the national level, real retail sales were up 0.6%.

Guilford County sales tax collections dipped 2.3% in March but are up by 0.8% over the past 12 months, unadjusted for inflation.

Sales Tax Collections
graph
Source:  NC Dept. of Revenue

Residential Building Permits

Planned building activity, as measured by single-family residential building permits, rose 2.1% in March but is down 17.4% from March of last year.  At the national level, total residential permits were off 0.4% in March but have gained 3.7% year over year.

Residential building permits reflect the plans of builders for future residential construction.  Permits generally lead actual building starts by 3 to 6 months and are considered an important leading indicator of future economic activity.

Building Permits
graph


Housing Prices and Sales

Housing market activity in Guilford County continued to slow in March.  The number of existing, single-family homes sold in Guilford County totaled 358 in March after adjustment for seasonal variation.  The number sold was down 3.2% compared to the level of sales recorded in February, and it was 15.8% below the number sold during March one year ago.

The average price of homes sold was up 0.2% in March and has risen 6.7% over the past 12 months.  Existing home prices in this cycle bottomed in March 2012 and have since risen 13.4%.

The inventory/sales ratio was 7.0 months.  This ratio indicates the number of months to clear the current inventory of homes on the market at the current pace of sales.  The ratio is up from 5.4 months in March of last year.  The inventory/sales ratio is substantially higher for more expensive homes.

Number and Prices of Existing Homes Sold, 1997.01 – 2014.03
(Seasonally Adjusted)
graph

There were 204 foreclosures in March, down 2.2% from February and off 23.6% year over year.  Foreclosures are forced sales and are a depressing influence in the housing market.


Table 1:  Guilford  Business Indicators
(March 2014)

Monthly Indicators

Feb. 2014

Jan. 2014

Dec. 2013

Feb. 2013

% Chg
Month Ago

% Chg
Year Ago

Guilford County Business Index

171.2

171.0

170.7

166.2

0.1%

3.0%

Triad Business Index

159.2

159.4

159.7

157.6

-0.1%

1.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Claims for Unemployment Ins.

978

1,132

1,281

2,702

-13.6%

-63.8%

Total Employment (1,000s)

234.2

234.3

234.3

230.6

0.0%

1.6%

Unemployment Rate (%)

6.8

6.9

7.1

9.5

-0.1

-2.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retail Sales ($ millions)

$490.6

$491.0

$490.7

$486.3

-0.1%

0.9%

Single-Family Res. Building Permits (units)

81

79

81

98

2.1%

-17.4%

Real Estate Foreclosures

204

208

212

267

-2.2%

-23.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guilford Co. Sales Tax Collections

$10,859

$11,115

$11,123

$10,775

-2.3%

0.8%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avg. Housing Price

$171,143

$170,735

$170,160

$160,344

0.2%

6.7%

No. of Existing Housing Sales

358

370

382

426

-3.2%

-15.8%

No. of Homes on the Market

2,512

2,471

2,425

2,286

1.7%

9.9%

Inv./Sales Ratio (mos.)

7.0

6.7

6.4

5.4

4.5%

29.6%

Number of Homes on the Market

2,335

2,145

2,267

2,155

8.9%

8.4%

NATIONAL INDICATORS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Employment (1,000s)

145,742

145,266

145,224

143,393

0.3%

1.6%

Unemployment Rate (%)

6.7

6.7

6.6

7.5

0.0

-0.8

Retail Sales ($ millions)

$382,856

$383,116

$383,671

$380,703

-0.1%

0.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Res. Bldg. Permits (units in 1,000s)

983

987

990

948

-0.4%

3.7%

ISM Purchasing Managers Index

53.7

53.2

51.3

51.3

0.9%

4.7%

Initial Claims for Unemployment Ins.

339,000

337,000

335,000

354,000

0.6%

-4.2%

 

Consumer Price Index (CPI-U)

236.3

234.8

233.9

232.8

0.6%

1.5%

 

 

All data are statistically adjusted to eliminate statistical aberrations unrelated to trend and cycle. Monetary figures (except housing values and tax collections) are deflated by the CPI-U to reflect inflation-adjusted 2013 dollars.

Figures are compiled by Dr. G. Donald Jud, Bryan School of Business & Economics, UNCG, Phone: 336/334-3091 E-mail: Juddon@uncg.edu

 

The Triad is defined as an eight-county area that is composed of Alamance, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, and Yadkin.