WSU indexes reflect an improving local economy
During the four months ending in February, the WSU Leading Economic Indicators Index experienced a net gain of 2.8 percent. Following months of decline, this increase is a welcome development, according to Jeremy Hill, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.
Seven of the nine index indicators improved from January to February, suggesting broad improvement across the economy. Those improvements included news that the number of Kansas initial unemployment claims declined by more than 50 percent; the inflation-adjusted value of Wichita's residential building permits increased 40.2 percent; the aerospace stock index increased 13.6 percent; and the national inflation-adjusted value of new orders for aircraft and parts increased 8.1 percent.
The WSU Current Conditions Index also increased in February by 1 percent. Four of the six seasonally adjusted index indicators showed improvement. Wichita's home sales increased 16.5 percent; the Wichita hotel occupancy rate increased 10.3 percent; the outbound volume of airfreight shipments at Mid-Continent Airport increased 11.3 percent; and the unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percent.
The index still has a lot of recovery to do to reach pre-recession levels, but February brought a flicker of hope to a situation that has been predominantly downhill since the end of 2007. This, coupled with the positive performance of the WSU Leading Economic Indicators Index in February, suggests that measurable year-end recovery of Wichita's economy is feasible.
The WSU indexes are sponsored and maintained by the Center for Economic Development and Business Research, W. Frank Barton School of Business, Wichita State University.