DETROIT (WWJ) — Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index grew in September, up 4.2 percentage points to a level of 129.4.

September’s reading is 57 points, or 79 percent, above the index cyclical low of 72.1, hit at the bottom of the last recession.

The index averaged 114 for all of 2012, 11 points above the index average for 2011. August’s index reading was revised downward from 125.4 to 125.2.

“A surge in residential building permits in September lifted our Michigan Index despite a small dip in payroll employment for the month,” said Comerica chief economist Robert Dye. “Also, vehicles assemblies were strong in September. However, recent auto sales data has been soft. The surge in residential building permits is probably not sustainable and will likely be a drag on the Michigan index in coming months. Auto sales dipped through September and October, down to a 15.2 million unit pace, as fleet sales eased and consumer confidence suffered through the federal government shutdown. Auto sales are expected to show gains in the November data.”

The Michigan Economic Activity Index consists of seven variables: nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and motor vehicle production.  All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2008, which is equal to 100 on the index. Current values have been converted to constant dollar values. Index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.

To receive this Index directly to your email inbox, go to to subscribe. Follow Comerica’s economics reports on Twitter at @Comerica_Econ.


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