Fresno State business index foresees slower economic growth

A monthly set of economic indicators suggests continuing but slower growth for Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley over the coming three to six months.

The San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index, prepared for Fresno State’s Craig School of Business by economist Ernie Goss, registered 54.8 last month, according to Goss’ survey of business executives at companies across Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties.

A score of 50 on the 0-to-100 scale is considered neutral, and anything above that suggests economic growth over the next few months. The survey considers factors including employment, wholesale prices, business, confidence, inventory levels, imports and exports, new orders, production/sales and delivery lead time.

“The overall index, at 54.8, that’s a pretty good number, but it’s down from last month’s January number of 58.8,” Goss said. “It’s still looking good  but it means a little bit slower growth for the San Joaquin Valley going forward, and the U.S. economy continues to limp along.”

The employment index for the Valley registered 54.1 in February, down from 58.3 in January.

“Interestingly, 15.4 percent of the businesses said finding and hiring qualified workers was a real issue and the biggest threat to their businesses for 2016,” Goss said. “That’s an interesting statistic given that the unemployment rate for the Valley remains above 10 percent.”