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Leading Indexes Point to Growth in Region Over Near Term

For release: April 1, 2003
Contact: Kathy Woodbury, (215) 574-4119

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia today released January's leading and economic activity indexes for Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

January's release was delayed because of the longer processing time required for annual benchmarking, particularly implementation of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). There will also be a delay in the releases for February and March.

For the 2003 schedule of regional and state employment and unemployment data releases, see this link to the Bureau of Labor Statistics site: http://www.bls.gov/lau/lausched.htm

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Vice President and Economist Ted Crone summarized the information from the indexes:

"The leading indexes for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware were all positive in January, pointing to growth in the region's economy through the summer and early fall. As it has been for several months, New Jersey's leading index for January was stronger than the leading indexes for Pennsylvania or Delaware. Pennsylvania's current economic activity index was unchanged in January, and Delaware's reflected only modest growth. New Jersey's current economic activity index continued to be stronger than the indexes for the other two states in the region."

The indexes, compiled by the Bank since 1994, present comprehensive measures of the economies of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The economic activity index is a composite indicator based on nonfarm payroll employment, unemployment rate, average hours worked in manufacturing, and real wage and salary disbursements. The leading index, which is a forecast of the growth of the economic activity index, is based on the recent pattern of the activity index, as well as traditional leading, indicators including housing permits, interest rates, delivery times, and initial unemployment claims.

The economic activity index is an indicator of the current economic climate, and the leading index forecasts the growth rate of the activity indexes nine months into the future.

To arrange an interview, contact Katherine Woodbury, the Bank's media assistant adviser, at (215) 574-4119. February's indexes are due to be released in late April and will be made available on this web site.

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