U.S. Out Paced by California's Trucking Activity

By: Bubbajunk.com

SAN DIEGO ---- According to an economic index released Tuesday, the United States was outpaced by California's trucking activity in December, accentuating an unmistakable recovery in the transportation of inventory to retailers, and so did commodities moving through the ports of California and along its freeways.

Economist Ed Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, said "California is the canary in the coal mine."

Commerce Index's Ceridian-UCLA Pulse is a real-time measure of the flow of commodities to U.S. factories, retailers, and consumers. The index gauges diesel fuel purchases at 7,000 truck stops nationwide. California seems to be recovering, according to the index – which isn't normally broken out by state, regardless of its $25.4 billion state budget deficit, and the Monday proposal of Gov. Jerry Brown to cut agencies and raise taxes to fill the gap.

Leamer said that after two nearly dead-even months of 130.5 and 130.4 in October and November, the index fell to 124 in California.

He said, prior to the index reading of 130-plus, the earlier peak had been 128 in August 2007, just as the economy was plunging into the hard times. The index plummeted to 105.8 at the bottom of the recession in May 2008.

According to Learner, the decline in the index to 124 in December wasn't an earth-shaking matter, as the two earlier months had exhibited the highest-ever index reading in California. California had a December 2009 reading of 117.

"It's a symptom of health," said Leamer of the December index. "The index shows where the disease is at."

Based on seasonally adjusted economic data, the index is brought together monthly by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Ceridian Corp., which takes care of credit card transactions on fuel purchases by truckers.

Leamer's index equaled 100 in 2002, its base year.

In the U.S., the index increased slightly to 111.87 in December from 108.8 in October.

The index supplies data for nine census regions in the United States. Eight out of nine regions enjoyed positive improvement in December, put alongside with only five out of nine in November.

The only area of the U.S. in which its index reading dropped was the New England region.

According to Learner, it is California's index that displayed greater improvement in trucking activity than the rest of the nation.

"It's been our view all along that exports will drive California and the national economy," Learner continues.