Written by The Business Journal Staff
Economist Ernie Goss, research associate with the Craig School of Business at Fresno State, produces the index each month from surveys of individuals making company purchasing decisions in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties.
Goss said December 2016’s overall index figure was 54.5, down slightly from 55.6 in November 2016.
While he said it was down slightly, it was still in a healthy territory, as an index greater than 50.00 indicates an expansionary in the next three to six months.
The hiring gauge did fall below growth neutral in December, sinking to 49.0. Despite that, over the past year the Central Valley’s job growth rate has been about 1.8 percent — a bit above the pace of the rest of the nation.
Goss projects that the Valley will add more than 2,500 jobs in the next six months. He also expects wages to grow at a faster pace in 2017, approaching 3.5 percent annualy.
“The No. 1 factor restraining growth is finding and hiring qualified workers,” Goss said.
The wholesale prices paid index fell to 54.2 in December from 58.5 in November, and Goss is warning businesses to watch for inflationary pressures as the Fed moves to hike interest rates.
Business confidence surged to 64.4 in December from November’s post-election figure of 59.4.
Goss also expressed concerns about talk of trade restrictions on the federal level.
“We economists see that as not a zero sum gain,” Goss said. “Trade is good for both parties. There’s too much talk about trade restrictions.”