The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™, which measures in real-time the flow of goods to U.S. factories, retailers, and consumers, fell 1.4% in August following a 0.2% dip in July, according to a report released Sept. 13 by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Ceridian Corp.
“July and August results indicate that the PCI will decline in the third quarter suggesting GDP growth of 0.0 to 1.0 percent,” said Ed Leamer, chief economist for the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. “The August number supports the pattern of sluggish economic growth coming out of a recession, which is something that we’ve seen in the past. What we’re experiencing is the ‘new normal,’ where the U.S. economy will continue to stumble forward until a new growth engine is identified.”
He said what the economy needed was an “innovation burst.”
Leamer said seven-day-average diesel volumes dropped 2% from July 23 to Aug. 19, excluding the holiday impact, after holding flat.
“However, the last week of August suggests some improvement,” he added.
On a year-over-year basis, the PCI was up 0.4% in August.
“While the YOY growth trend continues – the PCI has grown on a YOY basis every month since January 2010 except for May 2011 – this is down from the 1.0 percent YOY increase in July,” said the index providers.
From May through August, the year-over-year increase in the index dipped below 1.0% compared with better than 3.0% growth during the first four months of 2011, “further indicating the weakness in the economy.”
The index providers said that the continued weakness implies a 0.26% decline in U.S. Industrial Production during August.
The index is based on real-time diesel fuel consumption data for over the road trucking and serves as an indicator of the state and possible future direction of the U.S. economy. By tracking the volume and location of fuel being purchased, the index closely monitors the over the road movement of raw materials, goods-in-process and finished goods to U.S. factories, retailers and consumers.