Recent rains have lifted spirits with great timing for planting season. There are still hurdles in our local economy with another potential rate increase in June as the Fed continues to try and slow inflation. No questions rising rates have caused some slow down in the residential market; however, homes are still moving. Overall listings are way up but the housing industry has done a good job burning through inventory. As a result, permits are up. School is mostly out and we see the effects of this in a decline in retail numbers for the month. Local employment is strong. Overall, our local economy remains resilient moving into the summer months.
Retail sales for April 2023 are down 2.5% when compared to April 2022. YTD retail sales are up 5% from last year again mostly driven by higher prices. New vehicle sales saw a 21% decrease from last April, and used vehicle sales are down 38%.
Hotel Motel tax collection remains strong compared to previous months, with reports showing continued growth even exceeding pre-pandemic numbers. Airline boardings are up 9% since April 2022, indicating that pandemic fears have subsided and the economy is open.
Workers Employed are up 3,800 over 12 months ago on the Employer Survey and over 1,200 on the household survey. The labor force has increased 0.82% compared to April 2022, and wages are up 4% from last year. Unemployment is even from where it was a year ago.
The dollar amount of building permits for April totaled $244 million, up almost 200% from last year. There were 156 new residential starts in April, up 12% from last year. Builders have burned through inventory and are beginning to replenish their supply but there is still stress with interest rates continuing to slowdown growth in the overall housing market. Median house price was $239,990, up 2% from one year ago.
Commercial building activity YTD is down $11 million from last year. There were 62 new commercial starts in April, the same as last year. Although commercial activity was up for April 2023 it still lags behind last year’s activity. Commercial activity for April 2023 included the new Frenship High School of $190 million and smaller commercial construction and remodel projects in the city. Lubbock’s current construction activity both residential and commercial for the year 2023 is continuing a softening with higher interest rates.
Oil prices compared to last year are down 38%, and natural gas has dropped by 70%. Rig count has increased to 19 from 17 last year. For April, wheat is down 40%, corn is down 25% and cotton is down 22% when compared to April 2022. Recent rains have come along just in time for planting season. Fat cattle are up 24% for the month when compared to April one year ago, and milk prices are down 24%. With recent rains generally over the South Plains crop forecasts look improved.
*Base-100, January 1988
This document was prepared by Amarillo National Bank on behalf of itself for distribution in Amarillo, Texas and is provided for informational purposes only. The information, opinions, estimates and forecasts contained herein relate to specific dates and are subject to change without notice due to market and other fluctuations. The information, opinions, estimates and forecasts contained in this document have been gathered or obtained from public sources believed to be accurate, complete and/or correct. The information and observations contained herein are solely statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, sell or make any other investment decisions.
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