Fayette economy is on the rebound

Fayette County has a new tool in its economic toolbox: one that uses hard data to analyze the county’s economy.

The Fayette County Economic Index, rolled out Tuesday, shows Fayette has experienced positive year to year growth in its “index of current economic indicators” for 33 straight months.

This index is also 4.9 percent above where it was a year ago, according to the Fayette County Development Authority.

In other good news, the number of employed residents in Fayette County eclipsed the 50,000 mark in October … the first time since Aug. 2008 when the country fell into the grips of the recession.

Employment among Fayette residents is also up 3.1 percent, authority figures show.

The Fayette County Index of Current Economic Indicators tracks data on unemployment, building permits, hotel-motel taxes, local sales taxes, consumer confidence and more, FCDA President and CEO Matt Forshee said.

While sales tax collections are down comparing this year to last year, there is some hope that the holiday season will help bring a final push to the year-end figures.

The similar county Index of Leading Economic Indicators “has been above the 12-month moving average for 16 consecutive months,” according to the FCDA, which “suggests that the Fayette economy is on a sustainable path to economic recovery.”

The numbers from both measuring tools will help the county gauge where it has been economically, where it is today, and help project where it will be in the future, according to Forshee.

The data is prepared as a composite for the first time because the FCDA contracted with Georgia Tech to prepare an updatable system that will provide reliable economic data on a monthly basis to evaluate the state of the local economy, Forshee said.

The report has compiled historical data going back to 1997 to help show where Fayette’s economy has been in modern times and provide a bit of a measuring stick to where it is today.

“We are very excited about this to help answer the question, ‘What is the economy doing in Fayette County?’” Forshee said.

According to the FCDA, the indexes are derived from the following data:

“The Fayette County Index of Current Economic Indicators is designed to give a snapshot view of the state of Fayette’s economy today. It is made up of four sources reflecting data points which have already occurred: Fayette County’s Monthly LOST collections, Fayette County’s Hotel/Motel Occupancy Rates, Fayette County’s Household Employment and the South Atlantic Present Consumer Confidence as released by the Conference Board.”

“The Fayette County Index of Leading Economic Indicators is designed to give a projection of what the Fayette County economy will look like in six to nine months. This index is made up of four data points which change prior to the economy changing, including: Fayette County’s Initial Unemployment Claims (initial filings that a Fayette County resident will soon be going on unemployment), Fayette County Single Family Building Permits (initial notice that construction will soon begin), an Interest Rate Spread based on the Federal Reserve’s Treasury Constant Maturities Nominal 10–year versus the Federal Funds Effective Rate, and the South Atlantic Consumer Confidence Expectations as released by the Conference Board.”