Regional economy retreats after strong December

The latest Pulse of Commerce Index from researchers at Ceridian and UCLA shows an economy settling into a period of normal growth — it's the 14th consecutive monthly rise for the index, which tracks trucking activity — but it will not be strong enough to produce the big job gains needed to lower unemployment.

Growth of 3.4% is respectable, but not exceptional – particularly when compared to the gains recorded in April through July of 2010. However, like last month, the year-over-year growth is encouraging because January of last year was strong, and the index was able to grow over that strong comparison.

The four-state region that includes Tennessee was one of the weakest performers in January after posting very strong numbers to end 2010.