The Inland Empire economy is continuing its steady growth, and the unemployment rate remains very low, according to recent reports.
This month's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) was a strong 61.1 percent, an increase of 58.8 from the previous month, according to the new Inland Empire Report on Business.
"The index has remained above the baseline 50 percent mark for the last 19 months, indicating sustained growth for both the manufacturing sector and the overall local economy," said Dr. Barbara Sirotnik and Lori Aldana of the Institute of Applied Research at Cal State San Bernardino, the authors of the Report on Business.
Other economic categories were also very positive, Sirotnik and Aldana said.
“The Production Index increased from 57.7 to 66.1 this month. The New Orders Index also showed growth, increasing from 55.8 to 62.5 this month. The important thing is that these two key components of the PMI have remained solidly above the 50 percent mark for the past seven months, indicating a trend of growth and the anticipation that there will be increasing levels of consumer purchases in the near future," they said.
"Inventories increased from 57.7 last month to 64.3 this month. The Commodity Price Index increased from 71.2 to 73.2 this month indicating that prices are continuing to rise."
The Employment Index remained above 50 for the 19th month in a row, registering at 55.4, the report said.
"The speed of supplier deliveries decreased from 63.5 to 57.1 this month. A figure above 50 means that deliveries are slowing, which is a good sign … it means that suppliers are very busy," the authors said.
Forty-two percent of purchasing changers who were surveyed predicted that the local economy will become stronger in the upcoming months (up from last month’s 36 percent), and 50 percent of the respondents (down from 56 percent last month) believe the local economy will remain unchanged.
"In summary, although all indices point to slow and sustained growth, our respondents expressed concern regarding possible ripple effects on the economy from newly imposed steel and aluminum tariffs," the authors said. "Inland Empire companies that are dependent on components sourced overseas could see potential disruption in the global supply chain.
"At the national level, geopolitical instability has economists questioning whether another recession could be on the horizon. That said, we are cautiously optimistic about the state of the Inland Empire economy for the coming quarter. Unemployment is down, the construction and logistics sectors are strong, and national stats indicate that tax cuts are increasing consumer confidence and spurring consumer spending. The Inland Empire should fare well for the foreseeable future."
----- IN A SEPARATE REPORT, the unemployment rate in San Bernardino County fell from 4.6 percent in June to 4.4 percent in July, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) on Aug. 17.
The jobless rate in Riverside County in July was 4.7 percent.
Overall, California's unemployment rate stayed at 4.2 percent for the fourth straight month, holding a record low level in a series dating back to 1976.