The metro Toledo index of leading indicators rose a tenth of a percent in March to 90.2, marking the index’s highest reading in more than five years, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said Monday.
The index was up from a reading of 90.1 in February and a reading of 88.8 in March, 2013.
The index measures employment, initial jobless claims, average weekly hours in manufacturing, and valuation of housing permits in an attempt to predict future economic activity. An unchanged index suggests weak employment growth in the first half of the year, according to the state.
The slight increase in March in metro Toledo (Fulton, Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties) suggests slow but continued employment growth on a seasonally adjusted basis during the spring.
Ohio’s index remained steady in March at 94.6. Of the eight metro areas in the state, indexes rose in five, declined in one, and held steady in three others. The Akron metro-area index rose the most, up 0.4 percent to a reading of 100.5. The Columbus metro area was the only one to see a decline, a 0.1 percent drop to an index reading of 107.9.
The state said metro Toledo’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment decreased in March to 309,400 from 310,600 in February.
The average weekly hours in manufacturing in March was 41.8 hours worked, a decrease from February’s 42.2 hours. A year ago the average weekly hours worked was also 41.8.
Initial claims for unemployment compensation decreased in March to 2,222 claims, down about 5 percent in February and down 22 percent from a year ago.
The valuation of housing permits in metro Toledo in March reached $10.4 million, an increase of 122 percent from February’s $4.7 million, but down 6 percent from a year ago when the valuation was $11 million.
The total number of housing permits, which is not an actual component of the index but is tracked by the state, was 108 in March, up 260 percent from February and up 130 percent from a year ago, job and family services said. Of those 108 permits, 49 were for single-family units while 59 were for multifamily units.
Statewide, the the seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment increased to 5,282,900 jobs in March from 5,272,300 in February. A year ago, the number of jobs totaled 5,229,300.
The initial claims for unemployment in Ohio totaled 59,800 in March, up 54 percent from 38,923 in February, and up 34 percent from 44,514 a year ago.
The average weekly hours in manufacturing statewide in March was 41.8 hours worked, a decrease of nine-tenths of a percent from February’s 42.2 hours. A year ago the average weekly hours worked was also 41.8.
Statewide, the housing permits value in March was $294.5 million, up 51 percent from $195.2 million in February. The value was up 12 percent from a year ago when it was $263.6 million.
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