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AASU study: Modest econ improvement
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Armstrong Atlantic State University’s latest Coastal Empire Economic Monitor reports the Savannah-area economy expanded modestly during the second quarter of 2013.

"A rebound in consumer confidence — along with key gains in tourism and port activity — supported the regional economy," says the study.

The second quarter Economic Monitor forecasts the regional economy "should continue to experience modest growth through the end of 2013, but cautions that continued growth in early 2014 is questionable based on diminished momentum in the leading (forecasting) index."

The Coastal Empire leading economic index increased for the sixth consecutive quarter, but the forward momentum slowed considerably during the spring quarter. The continued loss of momentum from the leading index sends a cautionary signal for potentially waning economic growth beginning in early 2014.

“The humdrum growth we are currently experiencing is welcome, but not inspiring,” said Michael Toma, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics and the Director of Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis. “The forecasting index suggests there is more uncertainty about the regional economy starting in early 2014. Interested parties should closely monitor economic conditions in the coming months to obtain a clearer signal about the direction of the economy in 2014.”

Highlights from the latest Economic Monitor include:

— The Coastal Empire coincident economic index increased by three-tenths of a percent (1.1 percent, annualized), rising to 158.1.

— Employment in the three-county regional economy increased by 400 workers to 158,800 (seasonally adjusted).

— Hotel rooms sales increased by 3.5 percent as compared to the first quarter.

— The Coastal Empire leading economic index increased 0.1 percent, rising to 126.9 from 126.7 (revised) in the previous quarter.

— Unemployment insurance claims surged nearly 20 percent to 1,253 claims per month, forcing the unemployment rate up nearly one-half percentage point to 8.1 percent (seasonally adjusted).

— The seasonally adjusted number of new residential homes permitted for construction was 282, marking a sharp decline of 15 percent from the opening quarter of the year.

— Year-to-date residential construction permits issued remains 23 percent ahead of the pace set in 2012.

— The value of the building permit issued for a single family home jumped 16 percent to $178,500 from about $154,000.