With a monthly increase not seen since February 1999, the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index, or PCI, by the UCLA Anderson School of Management climbed 3.1 percent in May.
The increase represents the strongest indicator yet from the PCI that the U.S. economy is on the upswing.
The May results suggest the recovery is on pace for GDP growth in the healthy range of 3 percent to 5 percent for the second quarter of 2010, moving closer to the 5 percent to 6 percent increase necessary to drive down the unemployment rate. The year-over-year PCI number jumped 9 percent, adding a sixth straight month of positive year-over-year PCI comparisons.
“Absent good news from the usual recovery indicators – consumer optimism expressed by buying homes and cars, and business optimism expressed by hiring – the spike in the PCI is indeed very welcome news for the economy,” said Ed Leamer, the PCI’s chief economist.
“One month does not make a trend, but at least we are back in a recovery groove.”
The PCI is based on an analysis of real-time diesel fuel consumption data from over the road trucking tracked by Ceridian, a global provider of electronic and stored value card payment services and human resources solutions.
By analyzing payment card data for the location and volume of diesel fuel purchased by truck operators, the PCI provides a detailed picture of the movement of goods and materials across the United States.
The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index also provides data for the nine Census regions. All but one region shared in the strong growth of the May PCI results.
The Middle Atlantic region (New York and Pennsylvania) dropped from 0.8 percent to 0.6 percent but all other regions experienced an increase. For instance, the East North Central region (Ohio and Michigan) surged 6.2 percent and on the low end of the range, the Mountain region (Arizona and Colorado) climbed 1.5 percent over April.
“The uptick in trucking activity during the month was apparent nationwide,” said Craig Manson, senior vice president and index expert for Ceridian.
“More importantly, even though we’re still well below 2008 levels, the positive year-over-year growth trend in the index over the past six months is encouraging.”