RECESSION BOUND Local economic indexes dropped sharply in September


Both the leading economic indicators for Baltimore and Maryland -- and the region's labor markets -- provided strong signals in September that the area is heading toward a recession.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators, which predicts future economic activity, dropped sharply in both Baltimore and Maryland in September. The Maryland index fell 2.06 percent, and the Baltimore index suffered its second monthly decline with a drop of 1.65 percent.

While the U.S. index had been flat or on the decline through the summer, the local indexes showed strength in most months from May to August.

"This is the first clear indication that the state and local economies are likely to experience a recession in the coming year," said Dr. Michael Conte. He is director of the University of Baltimore's Center for Business and Economic Research, which compiled the data.

The sharpest decline in the September indexes was seen in new auto registrations, which fell 37 percent in Maryland, and almost 86 percent in Baltimore, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Real estate construction was down throughout the state and flat in Baltimore, according to Dr. Conte. Initial unemployment claims were up 2.4 percent in Baltimore and 11.3 percent in Maryland. And helped wanted ads in The Baltimore Sun fell 5.24 percent in September, reversing a series of increases in the last few months.

"The only favorable components of the two indexes were BWI passenger departures and enplanements and average weekly manufacturing hours," Dr. Conte said. Commercial passenger activity at BWI was up 0.57 percent between August and September, and the length of the manufacturing workweek was up slightly in September.


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