Things are not improving much economically in the Hub City, according to Lubbock National Bank’s monthly report.

The Lubbock Economic Index stayed the same from August to September, at 121.9. This is still down 2.1 percent from the September 2010 LEI of 124.5.

Some areas are experiencing improvement however. Taxable retail spending were up 1.2 percent for the third quarter compared to the same period last year and real general spending has risen about 2.7 percent from the first three-quarters of 2010.

Employment growth rates from the recent months have begun to level off slightly, with the September payroll employment estimate creeping up 2.3 percent, down from the peak of 3.7 percent in July. The unemployment rate does continue to rise slightly, now at 6.6 percent, up from September 2010’s 6.1 percent, and is the highest unemployment rate for Lubbock in over 20 years.

Construction activity is still suffering, with building permit valuations showing a quarterly decline for the fourth straight quarter. The third quarter total building permit total has dropped by over 25 percent year-over-year, and the year-to-date total is down by 32 percent, the lowest January to September total since 1999. Single-family residence construction permits have dropped about 60 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same time in 2010.

Auto sales rose slightly, with spending on new and used automobiles going up 2.2 percent compared with the third quarter of 2010. The year-to-date auto spending has jumped up by 6.7 percent from the same period in 2010, but is still down from 2007 and 2008.

Prices in Lubbock are going up though, with the Lubbock Consumer price increasing by 3 percent in September, compared to August’s 3.2 percent rate of change in August.

The food/grocery sector continues the march upward, rising 3.8 percent in September, compared to August’s 3.2 percent rate of change.

Health care prices are still going up, but not as quickly, with September dropping to 3.2 percent, down slightly from August’s 3.4 percent.

The housing portion of the CPI is increasing as well, inching up to 2.6 percent for September from August’s 2.5 percent. Energy and utilities are up for the first time in five months, rising to 3.3 percent for September, up from August’s once-steady 3.1 percent.