Southeast Economy Improved Modestly in December

February 12, 2013

Photo of house constructionThe Southeast economy continued to expand at a modest pace in December, according to the latest release of the Atlanta Fed's Data Digest. The monthly report highlights recent data from the region's key sectors.

The Coincident Index, a broad measure of economic activity, showed improvement. However, the regional economy continues to lag that of the nation. Meanwhile, the D6 Factor, a monthly index of the trend of key economic data for the six states in the region, gained slightly after declining in November. The index was up 0.29 of a point from the previous year, marking the first year-over-year increase since June 2012.

The region's labor markets have also made slow but steady progress. Half of southeastern states have unemployment rates above the national average. Meanwhile, the jobless rates in Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee were below the national rate of 7.8 percent.

Southeast housing progresses
The region's housing markets continued to improve in December, according to the Atlanta Fed's monthly Construction and Real Estate Survey. A majority of homebuilders and residential brokers reported that sales were up from year-ago levels. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of homebuilders and brokers said that home prices were up from the previous year. Both groups also reported a positive outlook for sales over the next several months.

While the region's housing market has improved in recent months, manufacturing activity remained weak. The Southeast Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) declined from September to November but ticked up slightly in December. Some southeastern states—namely, Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana—had component readings in expansionary territory. (An index reading of 50 or higher indicates an expansion, below 50 indicates contracting activity.)

For more data on the Southeast economy, see the full Data Digest online.