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Leading Index Shows Mixed Signals for Indiana Economy

Courtesy of Indiana University

An Indiana University economist says the Leading Index for Indiana – an economic predictor for the state – is sending mixed messages about the health of the Hoosier economy.

The Leading Index is at its highest point in four months, backed by positive reports from home builders and strong automotive sales.  But Indiana Business Research Center Economic Analysis Director Timothy Slaper says small business optimism is down and rising mortgage rates are dampening enthusiasm. 

He says the economy will likely continue to show mixed results as people try to figure out the effects of the sequester and consumers deal with high gas prices.

“I mean, they always go up in the summer because it’s the high travel season.  But that’s something that people watch,” Slaper said. “I mean, it’s on every street corner and they see it go up, they tend to get a little more gloomy even if the weather’s nice.”

Thursday’s Indiana jobs numbers also showed the strongest single-month increase in manufacturing jobs in nine years, and Governor Mike Pence says he thinks that’s more than just a one-time event.

“Our commitment to making Indiana more pro-business with common sense regulations, our commitment to tax relief and our fiscal responsibility is creating an environment where business and industry, particularly in manufacturing, is taking a hard look at Indiana as a place to grow or a place to locate,” Pence said.

Slaper says June employment figures are particularly difficult to use as an indicator, either positive or negative because of seasonal adjustments that occur in the middle of the year.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.