The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank released its revised National Activity Index, a key measure of economic activity that showed that though the economy is still in a rut, growth did occur in July.
The index, which is a weighted average of 85 indicators of economic activity, uses four categories for data: production and income; employment, unemployment and hours; personal consumption and housing; and sales, orders, and inventories. Using those factors, an index is calculated that measures economic growth.
According to the Chicago Fed, “A zero value for the index indicates that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth; negative values indicate below-average growth; and positive values indicate above-average growth.”
July’s average was -0.06, up from -0.38 in June. According to the Chicago Fed’s report, only the final data category, sales, orders and inventories, declined from June.
There is also a second number in the index, which the Chicago Fed calls the three-month moving average. As opposed to the National Index, which uses data on a month-by-month basis, the moving average offers a more consistent view of the economy, one removed from the shocks and sways that can occur with each month.
July’s moving average was -0.29 in July, up from -0.54 in June. According to the Chicago Fed, “when the (monthly average) value moves above -0.70 following a period of economic contraction, there is an increasing likelihood that a recession has ended.”
Production and manufacturing were both positive contributors to the index. Production-related indicators contributed +0.28, which was an increase of +0.25 from June. Also, industrial production was up 0.5 percent, and manufacturing production, namely in auto production, rose 0.4 percent.