PEORIA — A bird's-eye view of regional economic indicators — including employment figures across several sectors and other factors such as retail spending and the inventory of houses for sale — shows stability in the Peoria area despite downturns for some major employers.
The second quarter 2016 Composite Index of Business and Economic Indicators of the Peoria-Pekin Metropolitan Statistical Area set a mark of 98.9, little changed from the last few quarters and nearly at the benchmark indicator of 100 established with the beginning of the survey in the year 2000.
The index, created by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Bradley University's Foster College of Business Administration, has dipped below a threshold of 95 only once, at the end of 2009, and never has risen above 104.
"The overall index is stable, but we've seen that in the first half of 2016," said center director Bernard Goitein. "Gains in some areas were offset by losses in others."
The number of employed residents in the metropolitan area declined 1.5 percent from the first quarter to 172,085 people, which represented a 0.3 percent decline from the same time a year ago. The total number of jobs, meanwhile, sank 0.9 percent from last quarter to 176,758 jobs, which was down 1.1 percent from a year ago. The average unemployment rate, however, fell 0.4 percentage points, to 6.9 percent.
"We're not having as many people losing their job, and the unemployment rate fell in the second quarter," Goitein said. "The baby boomer cohort is growing, and they are going to be retiring — this should open up jobs for younger labor force members."
Business sectors posting job gains included the hospitality and entertainment services, with a 2 percent increase in the number of jobs over the first quarter, and professional and business services, with a 0.7 percent gain.
Job losses were highest in the manufacturing sector, which posted a 3.5 percent decline in the number of jobs from the first quarter, amounting to an overall decline of 7.4 percent from a year ago.
The number of health care jobs also declined — by 2.8 percent from last quarter — despite a 4.2 percent increase in estimated hospital revenue from the first quarter.
Consumer spending at retail outlets also increased from the first quarter by an estimated 3.5 percent, to $1.389 billion.
The number of homes for sale in the five-county metro region increased by 6.5 percent from the first quarter, representing a 7.4 percent increase over the second quarter last year, according to the Bradley report.
Becky Peterson, president of the Peoria Area Association of Realtors, said that group's listings do not fully reflect the composite findings, with house inventory exceedingly price and site specific.
"There are some price ranges that have a lack of inventory," she said. "It just depends on what you're looking for — and where."
One figure in Bradley's index, however, did jibe with the experience of Realtors — a vast decline in the number of new single-family home construction permits, which was down 41.6 percent from the previous quarter and a decline of 17.9 percent from last year.
"There's no doubt new construction is in a bit of a slowdown because of the current economic uncertainty," said Brian Monge of Jim Maloof Realtor. "Right now, there's less transfer business than there used to be — that's been curtailed by a lot of major employers in the area."
Matt Buedel is the Journal Star business reporter. He can be reached at 686-3154 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.