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County leading indicators index rises slightly

The University of San Diego's Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County rose 0.1 percent in July to 101.7. It is the fourth consecutive gain.

The increase can be attributed to a strong gain in local consumer confidence, a lesser but still significant one in the outlook for the national economy, and a small increase in local stock prices, according to USD professor Alan Gin, who prepares the report.

However, initial claims for unemployment insurance hit record levels, help wanted advertising remains down significantly, and building permits turned slightly negative.

The outlook for San Diego’s economy remains cautiously optimistic, Gin said in his report, adding that the bottom is projected to be reached in the first half of 2010. Some economic variables are likely to turn up before then, but job losses are expected to continue for the rest of this year.

Job loss for July compared to July 2008 tops 55,000. The hardest hit sectors include construction (down 10,400 jobs), leisure and hospitality (-9,300), administrative, support, and waste services (-9,200), retail trade (-8,000), and manufacturing (-7,700). The one positive sector for job growth was in health care, but only 800 jobs were created in that industry in the last year.

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