The economy certainly isn't rolling, but it also isn't rolling over just yet.
That's the message out of the latest reading of the Pulse of Commerce Index published by UCLA and data company Ceridian. The PCI, which tracks U.S. diesel fuel use and offers a view into industrial output via trucking mileage, rose 1% in June on a seasonally adjusted basis (see chart, right).
The rise breaks a two-month decline in the index, though it is hard to get excited given all the glum news about the economy. Unemployment last month ticked up to 9.2% and the trade gap has been widening again, showing the global imbalances that Tim Geithner et al. have been railing about for years aren't going anywhere fast.
"There's no getting around the fact that this is a disappointing trend," said UCLA economist Ed Leamer, who oversees the index. "The first half was hit by the oil price, so that's probably not going to get worse this year, but you don't really have a lot of signs of improvement."
June's rise is just the second monthly rise in the PCI this year. Though the three-month moving average of the seasonally adjusted index has risen 10% since hitting its postcrash low in mid-2009, it remains 4% below its bubble era high and is no longer closing ground on the pre-Lehman Brothers growth pace.
But lately it seems that every day we avoid utter collapse counts as a sort of moral victory, so for now we can chalk up June's PCI in the win column.
The recovery is over.
So says UCLA economist Ed Leamer. He notes that May brought the first year-over-year decline in the Pulse of Commerce Index of domestic diesel fuel use since the end of 2009 – the latest yellow flag to be raised over the sputtering U.S. economy.
The index, which indirectly tracks industrial production via trucking mileage, has now declined in four of the five months this year and in eight of MOREColin Barr - Jun 8, 2011 11:28 AM ET
High oil prices aren't hitting the economy as hard as you might expect.
That's one conclusion of the latest reading of the Pulse of Commerce Index, the monthly report on U.S. diesel fuel usage issued by UCLA and data company Ceridian.
The index fell 0.5% from March levels in April but posted its 17th straight year-on-year gain. The results, says UCLA economist Ed Leamer, are surprising mostly in how little of March's MOREColin Barr - May 11, 2011 9:48 AM ET
The economy may not be as vulnerable to $110 oil as you might imagine.
That's one message out of the latest Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index. The index rose 2.7% in March, wiping out declines in the first two months of 2011 and suggesting a modest economic recovery remains on track, in spite of the soaring price at the pump.
The index tracks U.S. diesel fuel use and as such is a MOREColin Barr - Apr 12, 2011 1:00 PM ET
The recovery slowed down last month, but don't blame bad weather or soaring oil prices.
That's how UCLA economist Ed Leamer reads the latest dip in the Pulse of Commerce Index he oversees. It tracks diesel fuel consumption by trucks delivering goods and as such provides a glimpse into next week's release of U.S. industrial production data, not to mention gross domestic product growth.
On a year-over-year basis, the UCLA index has MOREColin Barr - Mar 9, 2011 10:44 AM ET
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