Written by The Business Journal Staff
For the first time since December 2013, the San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index dropped below the growth neutral threshold in June.
Last month the index fell to 49.5 from 51.2 in May. An index greater than 50 indicates an expansionary economy over the course of the next three to six months.
“One month below growth neutral does not, in of itself, set the stage for slower economic growth for the San Joaquin Valley,” said Dr. Ernie Goss, research faculty with the Craig School of Business at Fresno State and the author of the index.
“We will have to see several months of sub-45 readings before a negative economic growth forecast will be issued,” Goss added. “However, weaker readings since January of this year are raising concerns.”
This month respondents were asked about hiring at their firm for the second half of 2016. More than 25 percent anticipate new hiring, 53 percent expect no change in hiring and 20 percent forecast layoffs in 2016.
The index is a leading economic indicator from a survey of individuals making company purchasing decisions in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties and uses the same methodology as that of the national Institute for Supply Management.
For a third straight month, the index’s regional hiring gauge fell below the growth neutral 50 threshold. The employment index expanded slightly to a weak 49.8 from May’s 49.7. Until recently local businesses had been boosting employment at a strong pace, according to Goss. Over the past 12 months, the region has experienced job growth of 3 percent, which is more than double the pace of the nation’s job growth. He expects job gains to be “slight” in the months ahead.
The prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of purchased raw materials and supplies, dipped to 54.1 from May’s 54.4. In keeping with other regional surveys and the national survey, Fresno’s results over recent months show only modest inflationary pressures at the wholesale level.
Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the business confidence index, climbed to a weak 47.9 from May’s 45.9.
“Since most survey participants completed the survey before Great Britain’s vote last week to exit the European Union, the confidence index does not fully account for recent increases in global economic uncertainty brought about by the vote,” Goss said.