LNB’s economic index: Overall growth, jobs, construction, commodity prices fuel healthy economy
Overall growth, more jobs, construction and rising commodity prices keep fueling Lubbock and the region’s healthy economy according to Lubbock National Bank’s monthly economic index for February.
Here are Chip Gilmour’s six takeaways from the report.
- The Index’s overall number was unchanged at 149 from January, but up 3.3 percent over February of last year at 144.3 – another indication of five-and-a-half years of economic expansion.
- The Lubbock economy added an estimated 3,400 jobs over the past 12 months. Texas Tech has added some jobs, the recovering energy sector and agriculture have also helped, as has construction. “Affordable housing helps a company like Monsanto to have operations here opposed to California or Houston,” said Gilmour. The unemployment rate did move up to 3.7 percent compared to 3.3 percent for the same month a year ago.
- Construction continues to impress:
- New home permits were up 56.5 percent from February a year ago and up 62.7 percent year to date.
- The value of all construction permits were up 32.6 percent from last February and 15.2 percent year to date.
- The average home sale price was flat and the only negative number was a drop of home sales – down 5.4 percent over February of 2016 and 1.8 percent year to date.
- Retail sales continue to be soft, but showing some improvement – down .6 percent from February a year ago, but up 2 percent year to date. Gilmour said people are still being cautious about spending as energy and agriculture rebounds and they wait to see about tax reform and healthcare costs. “As things unfold, people will hopefully get more confidence and feel more at ease spending,” he said. “There are still some unknowns – the Republicans can’t agree on things. Our national government right now is not highly productive. If president Trump and the government can do what they say they will things will be highly productive.”
- Oil prices inched over $50 a barrel in February, up 84.8 percent from a year ago and cotton was at 71.6 cents a pound, up 26.1 percent from a year ago. Both commodities help drive the Lubbock – and regional – economies. Rig count and number of drilling permits are rising and the industry is adding some jobs again.
- The Lubbock Consumer Price Index crept up to 1.9 percent in February, up from 1.8 percent in January and 1.3 percent in February of last year.
Lubbock National Bank Senior Vice President Chip Gilmour briefs local media each month on the report.
To see the full report, click here