Lubbock’s Economic Index continues a slow upward climb.

The LEI posted the fourth straight monthly increase for January 2012, increasing to 123.6, up from December’s 123.3, and up very slightly from January 2011’s 123.5.

While the slight increase from January 2011 to January 2012 may seem fairly diminutive, it is also the first year-over-year increase in the index since January 2009, according to Lubbock National Bank.

Retail spending is up in Lubbock for January 2012, as sales tax receipts show an increase of 4.8 percent compared with the same period of 2011.

Building permit activity also showed an upturn, jumping over 47 percent year-over year, but the January 2011 valuation total was quite low, dropping 68 percent from January 2010. Last month’s $19 million January total is still the lowest for January since 1999, with the exception of January 2011.

Crop numbers are showing severe declines as well as a result of the 2011 drought, with cotton ginnings numbers suggesting a 65 to 70 percent decrease in the reason. The complete ginnings numbers will not be released until March.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also released their preliminary estimates for cotton production on the South Plains for 2011, showing the number of harvested acres declined by almost 60 percent from 2010. The number of bales produced dropped by around 65 percent, and is the lowest since 1986. The higher cotton prices for 2011 kept the value of the crop from dropping as much as it could have, landing at an estimated decline of 48 percent.

Prices in Lubbock stayed relatively stable as well, as the Consumer Price Index for December 2011 remained unchanged for January, settling at 3.2 percent.

Some sectors did show increases, including the food/grocery sector, which rose to 4.6 percent in January 2012, up from December’s 4.5 percent. The health care sector CPI also increased to 3.5 in January from 3.4 percent in December.

The housing portion of the Lubbock CPI in January 2012 decreased to 2.7 from December’s 2.8.

The national benchmark CPI-U dipped to 2.9 percent in January, down slightly from December 2011’s 3.3 percent.

You can read the entire report here.