Economic Indicators Show Economy Losing Momentum; Jacksonville Joins Negative Trend with Index Dropping Two of the Last Three Months

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Byline: Mark Basch, Times-Union staff writer

Indicators of future economic activity dropped last month both nationally and in Jacksonville, suggesting the economy is slowing down.

The Conference Board reported Thursday that the U.S. Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.1 percent in September, the fourth straight monthly drop.

"A fourth consecutive decline in the leading economic indicators is a clear signal that the economy is losing momentum heading into 2005," said a statement by Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein.

Locally, the University of North Florida's Local Economic Indicators Projected reported that the index of leading indicators for the Jacksonville area fell 0.25 points in September to 107.52. After rising for five straight months earlier this year, the Jacksonville index has now fallen two out of the last three months.

"The national LEI has been down for each of the last four months and, unfortunately, this month's downturn may reflect that Jacksonville has joined the negative trend," said Paul Mason, UNF economics professor and coordinator of the LEIP project.

The biggest negative indicator for the local economy is a sharp rise in initial claims for unemployment insurance, LEIP reported. …