Lubbock Economy Still Very Healthy

Commercial building numbers vs. massive 2017 numbers cause May Economic Index to drop over April, but Lubbock economy still very healthy

A drop in commercial building caused the May Lubbock National Bank Economic Index to dip over the previous month, but everything else continued to grow.

The Index was down from April’s 151.9 to 151.1 – but was up almost a full point above May 2017.

Residential real estate, jobs and consumer spending were all positive.

“No surprises here,” said Randy Laycock, Lubbock National Bank’s senior vice president of marketing. “This reflects our economy, which is doing very, very well.”

Commercial building permits reflected the extraordinarily high value of commercial permits pulled in May 2017 more than any slump in commercial building this spring.

“There was just so much building last year,” said Laycock. He pointed out such large projects as the West End Shopping Center, chain restaurants and the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts, which influenced the figure for 2017.

The total monthly value of commercial permits issued in May was down 80 percent compared to a year earlier. “Building is more residential than commercial this year,” he added.

Speaking of that …

The number of new housing permits in May hit a record 145, an increase of 5 percent over a year earlier, which was up by 90 percent compared with the previous year. The total number of housing construction permits pulled year to date is the second highest on record for the first five months of the year.

The number of existing home sales between January and May set a new record and outpaced sales during the same period last year by nearly 8 percent. In May of this year, the average sales price was 6.7 percent higher than a year earlier. Adjusted for inflation, the dollar value of home sales has increased 10 percent year-to-date of the same period last year.

In other sectors:

Payroll employment was 2 percent higher than in May 2017. An estimated 2,900 jobs were added to the Lubbock economy in the last 12 months with the leisure and hospitality sector creating 1,200 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities added 600, and professional and business services produced 500. The unemployment rate declined to 2.8 percent, down from 3 percent in May of the previous year.

Auto sales have set one record after another this year. In May, inflation-adjusted spending on new and used motor vehicles was up 11 percent compared to a year ago.

General consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.9 percent in May compared to the previous year. The rate of increased consumer spending has been fairly consistent over the last year.

Inflation, as measured by the Lubbock Consumer Price Index, has stayed fairly constant and May was no exception. Prices rose 2.3 percent, with upward pressure on the price of food, groceries, housing and energy. In comparison with the local rate of inflation, the national rate and the rate for the Southern region including Texas, was 2.7 percent; the rate for the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area jumped from 2.9 in March to 3.9 in May.

The price of West Texas intermediate crude oil rose to $66.37 in May or 47.3 percent over the May 2017. The total value of oil production in this area rose 31.3 percent in May.

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