The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI) rose 0.7% in February but was not enough to offset the 1.7% decline in the previous month. The monthly report--issued by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Ceridian Corporation—continues to show a US economy that is struggling to gain traction.
The most recent three-month period from December to February is lower than the previous three months from September to November 2011 by 3.2% at an annualized rate. With the first two months of the quarter known, the PCI must grow by over 4% from February to March to allow the PCI to grow positively in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the last quarter of 2011.
"The continuing weakness of the PCI is signaling that, perhaps, the recovery in home building has not yet taken hold. The recent improvement in building permits and housing starts may get building going again and therefore, trucking as well, as it has been said that it takes 17 truckloads to build a home” says Ed Leamer, chief economist for the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. “If we get the saws and hammers going again, we will have a real recovery with much healthier job growth."
The year-over-year growth in the PCI since May of 2011 has been wobbling slightly above zero. In December 2011, the year-over-year growth turned decidedly negative at -0.8% with January 2012 even worse at -2.2%; February year-over-year was only slightly negative at -0.2%.