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San Diego County real estate activity slows to stall, index says

The already sluggish local economy appears to have lost momentum in September, with a sharp decline in building permit applications dragging the University of San Diego’s Index of leading Economic Indicators into its first outright decline since early 2009.

“It’s significant that the economy has stalled, not necessarily falling, but it’s just now reached a point where it’s unchanged,” said Alan Gin, the University of San Diego economist with the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate who created the index. “It looks like the economy is flat.”

The index fell a modest tenth of a point to 109.9 in September.

The change in the index, which averages the monthly change in six key indicators to assess where the economy is headed, is the first time it has fallen —- even if ever so slightly —- since the middle of the Great Recession.

“While the decline is a little worrisome, it is not a signal that a downturn in the local economy is imminent,” said Gin, who released the index results Thursday.

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