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Mixed signals.

Key business indicators have been throwing off mixed signals lately, adding to the confusion and uncertainty regarding the current status and future prospects of the economy. The important measure reflecting the total output of goods and services in the U.S. economy-gross national product-revealed that, for all practical purposes, no growth occurred in the economy in the fourth quarter.

To add to the confusion, the key indicators of employment and unemployment showed that surprising strengths were still evident in the economy in January. Total payroll employment increased by 275,000 workers and the unemployment rate was unchanged from December's 5.3 percent, a low rate maintained since last September.

Factory payrolls, however, were down in january for the eighth consecutive month. More than half the states in the nation, including Indiana, have reported decreases in manufacturing employment for much of that period.

In Indiana, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December rose to 5.1 percent from November's 4.9 percent; still a below-average rate nationally, but rising. Most of the state's metropolitan statistical areas showed a December increase in their layoff rates.

So while many key indicators are providing signs of a troubled economy, there are no conclusive signs that a recession has begun.
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Title Annotation:Indiana key business indicators
Author:Carter, John J.
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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