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December's State Economic Activity, Leading Indexes Released

For release: January 31, 2003
Contact: Kathy Woodbury, (215) 574-4119

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

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

"The current economic activity indexes for Pennsylvania and Delaware experienced significant declines in December, extending the weakness exhibited earlier in the fourth quarter. The leading indexes for both states were also negative. This was the first negative reading in the leading index for Pennsylvania in over a year and a half and does not necessarily signal a downturn in the state's economy. Delaware's leading index has been negative for some time, and the state's economy struggled with significant job losses through most of 2002. New Jersey's economy is more stable. The state's index of current activity rose modestly in December as it did through most of 2002. New Jersey's leading index remains strong enough that we can confidently expect growth to continue through the first half of 2003."

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 Kathy Woodbury, the Bank's assistant media adviser, at (215) 574-4119. January's indexes are due to be released in late February 2003 and will be made available on our web site at www.philadelphiafed.org.

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