GFOA Economic Indicator Dashboard

GFOA created the following dashboards to provide one location for local government finance officers to easily access an up-to-date array of data/trends/indices to help them forecast revenue, expenditures, debt issuance, employment and other short- and long-run economic factors impacting their constituents. They are divided into six differernt dashboards based on type of data: (1) Covid-19 Prediction Model; (2) Employment; (3); Market; (4) Housing; (5) Income and Personal Debt; and (6) Local Tax Revenue. Click on the headers below to reach any of the six dashboards.

Employment Data

the following graphs and maps provide both a broad overview as well as a drill-down of employment, unemployment, and poverty trends which can be used to understand the employment landscape and to help inform hiring and personnel budgeting

  1. Official Poverty Rate: three times the subsistence food budget for a family of a given size; a high or increasing poverty rate often signifies economic disparities/inequality.
  2. Underemployment rate (U6): A higher rate of underemployment signifies a high rate of unemployed, underemployed, & discouraged workers.
  3. Unemployment rate (U3): measure of the mismatches between the labor supply and demand, highlighting the unutilized labor supply. It can be used to track economic cycles for revenue/expense forecasting.
  4. Weekly Unemployment Claims*: signals large number of workers will soon be collecting unemployment and possibly other public benefits, and income tax revenue may decline (if applicable).

 

COVID19 Prediction Model

In an effort to provide a current picture of COVID-19 to help our members in their decision making processes,

GFOA partnered with Hubbard Decision Research, a decision science group acclaimed for their COVID forecasting since January 2020. Two predictions were created on on May 21 for the following 30 days for: (1) total number of deaths; and (2) daily deaths. Two prior 30-day predictions made April 22 can be also be seen by scrolling down.

For more information or regional forecasts, please visit their site (https://hubbardresearch.com).

 

Market Data

The following graphs provide a look at the US economy from a variety of perspectives including the stock market’s current volatility, new business creation (by state and across the country),

as well as government bond issuances and interest rate trends to aid finance officers in forecasting debt issuance and other fiscal decisions.

  1. New Business Starts: an increase in the number of new businesses can signal a strong economy and future hiring.
  2. Total Number of Government Bond Issuances: more government bond issues often signify a strong/stable municipal bond market and easier access to low-cost capital for borrowing.
  3. Stock Market Volatility Index (or "Fear Index"): used by investors to measure market risk, fear, and stress before investing. If high, the market is unstable and investment is likely riskier.
  4. Interest Rate Spread (10-year Treasury Note minus 2-year Treasury Note): used by investors to try to understand future economic trends. When the market foresees an environment of stronger growth, higher inflation, and/or interest-rate increases by the Federal Reserve, the yield curve steepens which means the yields on longer-term bonds rise more than the yields on short-term bonds. Conversely, when investors expect weaker growth, lower inflation, and easier Fed policy, the yield curve often flattens meaning yields on longer-term bonds fall more than yields on short-term issues.
  5. 9) US Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Strong GDP typically signals a strong economy.
  6. 10) New Business Starts (per 100k Citizens, Jan 2020): new business starts normalized by population.


Housing Data

The housing market is often a strong indicator of how the greater economy as whole is moving and can aid finance officers in predicting current and future economic conditions, especially related to budgeting for capital projects.

  1. Construction Spending: used by government agencies and construction-related businesses use construction spending data for economic forecasts, market research, and financial decision-making.
  2. Building Permits Issued for New Privately-Owned Housing Units*: Building permits offer foresight into future real estate supply levels. A high volume indicates the construction industry will be active, which forecasts more jobs and, again, an increase in GDP.
  3. Private Building Permits Issued per 100k People: same as above but normalized for population.

 

Income and Personal Debt Data

The following charts provide whether citizens feel they have sufficient income to cover their living expenses and the amount of personal debt they incur are both important measures of economic well-being. 

  1. Median Weekly Wages: median wage can help to understand the overall movement of earnings across the country.
  2. US Revolving Consumer Credit Owned and Securitized*: Revolving consumer credit, or credit card debt, is an excellent indicator of ease of access to and usage of credit which changes with economic cycles. Growth in credit card debt often signals strong economic conditions as consumers feel confident in borrowing and vice versa.
  3. Median household income (by county): useful for comparing affluence and living standards across different counties in the US.

 

Local Tax Revenue Data

Understanding where tax revenues come from is crucial to finance officers’ ability to forecast future revenues and budget effectively. The four state maps below contain two elements: (1) the color-coded * symbols – which are the same across all 4 state maps - represent the dominant type of local tax revenue collected out of income, property, sales, and utility tax revenue (see legend). (2) the shading of the individual maps represents the percentage of local general fund revenue made up by the four tax types above (hover over a given state to see what percentage of general revenue each of the local tax revenue types (income, property, sales, and utility) according to the map’s title.

  1. Select Local Tax Revenue Types (by county): The shading of the map represents the sum of local property tax revenue within that county. By hovering over or looking up a given county, one can see the sum of: individual income tax, other license tax, property tax, utility tax, and total general sales tax.