Comerica Bank’s Texas Economic Activity Index grew 0.7 percent in December to a level of 133.1. December’s index reading is 38 points, or 39 percent, above the index cyclical low of 95.5. The index averaged 129.0 points for all of 2017, four and three-tenths points above the average for 2016. November’s index reading was 132.1.
The Comerica Bank Texas Economic Activity Index improved again in December, posting its fourth consecutive monthly gain. Seven of the nine indicators were positive in December, including nonfarm payrolls, unemployment insurance claims (inverted), housing starts, house prices, industrial electricity demand, state total trade and state sales tax revenues. The two negative indicators were the drilling rig count and hotel occupancy. The Lone Star State is regaining momentum after being slammed by Hurricane Harvey last summer. Texas nonfarm payrolls were up 2.5 percent in 2017, more than the other large state economies of California and Florida. Demographic trends remain positive as Texas continues to pull in new workers from outside the state. Both domestic and international migration into the state are boosting the Texas labor force, which grew about twice the national average last year. Texas’ growing population is also driving up demand for housing across the state’s major metro areas, supportive of rising house prices. The state’s energy sector will be a positive for the Texas economy this year. WTI crude oil prices climbed to the $60-$65 range in early 2018, motivating increased production. We do not expect to see a big jump in the drilling rig count this year, but overall employment levels and other metrics will be supported by a stronger energy sector.
For a PDF version of this report click here: TX_Index_0218.
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