by Valorie Hanni Rice
Senior Specialist, Business Information

 S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for November were released January 27.  Phoenix home prices rose just 1.9% over the year in November, while the U.S. increase was 4.7%. This was down from the one-year change of 2.1% Phoenix experienced in October.

The Census Bureau released the first state and local level 2012 Economic Census data on January 27. Data will roll out sector by sector throughout the spring, with manufacturing the first to be reported. California had the highest manufacturing employment among all states, while Arizona ranked 31st. There were 131,941 manufacturing employees in Arizona for 2012, 40,497 fewer than in 2007, when we ranked 28th.

Arizona employment was released the week before, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics released all state employment and unemployment figures on January 27. The majority, 42 states, had lower unemployment rates for December, while four had increases and four had no change. Arizona’s 6.7% December rate was 1.1% higher than the nation’s. Forty-six states, including Arizona, had lower unemployment rates compared to a year earlier.

Initial unemployment claims in Arizona were lower the week ending January 10, moving down 958 to 4,579. While the weekly figure was down, the four-week average was higher, at 4,040, due to the steep rise in claims the beginning of January/end of December. Nationally, initial claims for unemployment dropped considerably the week ending January 24, to a seasonally adjusted 265,000. This is the lowest claims have been since April 2000. The four-week average also was lower at 298,500.

According to the advance estimate released January 30, real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2014. GDP increased 5.0% in the third quarter. A more complete estimate for the fourth quarter will be released February 27.

Consumers were in a good mood in January. Both the Thomas Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index were at levels they had not reached in several years. The Consumer Confidence Index was at 102.9 in January, up from 93.1 in December, and at the highest since August 2007. The Consumer Sentiment Index for January, at 98.1, was the highest it has been since January 2004.  

Hands and calculator photo courtesy Shutterstock.

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