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The Economy’s Decline is Slowing

We recently covered a new way to measure the economy in real time called the Weekly Economic Index (WEI). As we continue to track the WEI, it shows the economy continues to decline but at a slowing rate.

The index fell to -9.4 as of the week ending April 11 from -8.6 the previous week. For reference, the WEI stood at 1.6 on the week ending February 29, before the COVID-19 shock hit.

Last week’s decline of 0.9 points from the previous week is bad news. But as the table shows, that decline is far smaller than the previous three weeks when it fell 4.4, 3.5, and 1.8 points. Hopefully we are reaching the bottom of the decline.

As a refresher, the WEI is calculated by a trio of economists from the New York and Dallas Federal Reserve Banks and Harvard University. It looks at the ten data points listed below to track what’s happening in the economy in real time.

  • Redbook same-store sales

  • Rasmussen Consumer Confidence

  • New claims for unemployment insurance

  • Continued claims for unemployment insurance

  • Adjusted income/employment tax withholdings

  • Railroad traffic

  • American Staffing Association Staffing Index

  • Steel production

  • Wholesale sales of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel

  • Weekly average U.S. electricity load

–Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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