City News Service
The monthly University of San Diego Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate's Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County, released today, rose 0.9 percent in January to 118.1, its highest mark since June 2008.
It's the third increase in a row, and the biggest improvement since a 1 percent uptick last April, USD business professor Alan Gin said.
The jump was led by sharp increases in consumer confidence, initial claims for unemployment insurance, and local stock prices, according to Gin.
He said help-wanted advertising and the outlook for the national economy were also up solidly.
The only sector to decrease in January was the number of authorized residential building permits.
While the regional economy is improving, rapidly increasing gas prices could have three negative consequences, he said.
"First, consumer buying power is reduced -- for every 10-cent increase in the price of a gallon of gas, $8-$10 million a month is taken out of the local economy. Consumers spend that much more on gasoline instead of other goods and services," Gin said.
Higher shipping costs could spur price increases for goods, and consumer confidence could be reduced, resulting in lower spending and a slower economy, he said.
Gin said the increase in consumer confidence in the January index was recorded before the current spike in fuel prices.
The 118.1 index figure in January was the highest since a 118.6 in June 2008.
The index's highest level in the past decade was 144.2 in March 2006, and the lowest was 100.7 in the same month three years later.