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December 1983

Business Cycles and the Eighth District

by G.J. Santoni

G. J. Santoni compares the economic performance of the Eighth Federal Reserve District with that of the nation since 1970 to assess whether economic conditions in the District typically follow those of the nation or whether there is a unique pattern to local economic fluctuations. Santoni examines quarterly growth rates of personal income, total employment, total value of residential and commercial construction, housing starts, and mortgage loans, as well as the level of the unemployment rate for both the United States and the District. He focuses separately on periods of economic expansion and contraction to determine whether significant cyclical differences exist. Santoni points out that, because indicators of District economic activity are more volatile than those for the nation, differences—even fairly large ones—between District and national economic indicators are to be expected and, indeed, have been observed from time to time. These differences have little substantive meaning, however; they are due largely to “chance” occurrences. Overall, the data reveal that the District’s economic performance essentially has matched that of the nation’s over the past 14 years.