Editor’s note: The Bulletin has partnered with the University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Economics to produce the Central Oregon Business Index. The index provides a regular snapshot of the region’s economy using economic models consistent with national standards. The index, exclusive to The Bulletin, appears quarterly in the Sunday Business section.

The Central Oregon Business Index continued its slow pace of growth in the fourth quarter of 2018, reflecting slower growth in the real estate market and a decline from the third quarter’s record high air travel.

The index reached 145.54, up 0.3 percent from 145.12 in the third quarter, according to index author Tim Duy, professor of practice in economics at the University of Oregon. The index comprises nine variables, which are adjusted for seasonality, and is measured against a benchmark of 100 set in 1998.

“This expansion is most definitely aging,” Duy said. “The internal dynamics of it are changing.”

Noteworthy readings on the quarter include job growth, which was not as strong as estimated, Duy said. Deschutes County employers had about 85,600 jobs on their payrolls in the fourth quarter, up 1.1 percent from about 84,600 jobs in the third quarter.

Since fourth quarter 2017, Deschutes County employers added about 2,800 jobs, a growth rate of 3.3 percent. “That’s still a fairly solid pace of job growth,” Duy said.

Average monthly home sales were on the low end of the range of 450 to 500 that’s been seen since 2015. (The measure includes sales of single-family and multifamily units.)

Home prices saw virtually no change from third quarter to fourth quarter, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Duy noted. But new-home construction continued at a pace above 150 units per month, he said.

“It’s little better than other parts of the state,” Duy said. “Considerably better than Portland, where activity has slowed down much more noticeably.”

Passenger traffic at Redmond Airport declined from a record high of 78,298 arrivals and departures in the third quarter. There were 76,020 arriving and departing passengers in the fourth quarter, 3 percent fewer than in the previous quarter.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com