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By Todd Haggerty

Which way is the U.S. economy headed? Well, it depends which economic indicator you are looking at.

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its employment figures for the month of December and the good news is that the unemployment rate fell from 7 percent to 6.7 percent. However, only 74,000 jobs were added—many experts had expected the addition of 200,000 jobs in December.

While the employment gains are disappointing, a recent release of state Leading Indexes (a six-month forecast of four combined state-level economic indicators) from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve indicates economic conditions are expected to improve in nearly every state over the next six months.

This mixed bag of economic indicators reflects the findings of NCSL’s latest fiscal report, "State Budget Update: Fall 2013," which finds that four and half years after the end of the Great Recession, state budget recovery remains a work in progress.

So, while state budget conditions have improved from the worst years, the slow but steady revenue growth continues to pose numerous fiscal challenges for lawmakers as they head into their 2014 legislative sessions.

Todd Haggerty is a policy specialist in NCSL's Fiscal Affairs Program

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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