Record-breaking Bryan-College Station economy stays strong
More record building numbers, low jobless rate, strong auto sales and positive retail sales all pushed the Bryan-College Station Economic Index to another record – 153.2 in May – up 0.6 from April and up 2 percent from May a year ago.
“Things just seem to keep improving around here. It’s a very good year,” said Tom Maynard, Commerce National Bank’s senior vice president and regional manager.
He shared the following five insights from the May report.
The May monthly increase extends the pattern of post-recession growth in the Bryan-College Station general economy to six full years – 72 months of growth since the index finally began to improve in earnest following the deep recession of 2009. Over that time the B-CS Economic Index has increased by more than 30 percent, averaging over five percent per year, and 16,000 jobs have been added to the B-CS metro area economy.
Construction/real estate stays hot.
“A good amount of that revolves around the medical school as well as the biomedical industry that Texas A & M has been a part of. That, along with the three hospitals, are responsible for bringing medical professionals that drive higher-paying jobs in the area. This helps support the local economy and especially the home-building business.”
He said the university has a public/private development called Century Square with one hotel and another coming, housing, a movie theater, restaurants and retail stores.
There are other housing developments going up around town, one on the site of the former Texas World Speedway.
“Housing under $500,000 is still good” and inventory turns over at a healthy clip, said Maynard.
- Value of all construction was up 128.8 percent (yes … you read that right) over May of last year.
- Single-family housing permits of 107 were up 59.7 percent over the previous May. That’s the second-highest May total behind only the 116 permits issued in May 2003.
- Home sales were up almost 16 percent over last May and almost 13 percent year to date.
- Average home sale price is up almost 10 percent over last May and year-to-date, showing home ownership is a solid investment.
- Dollar volume of residential home sales is up 24.2 percent over last May and almost 21 percent year-to-date.
Auto sales were up 7.2 percent over last May.
“After the recession, people put off buying for a long time,” said Maynard, but added the market may be softening a little and used car inventory may be bloated a bit.
Taxable spending was up 2.4 percent over May a year ago and up 3.3 percent over the first five months of 2016.
The May year-over-year employment growth rate of 2.8 percent is in the top tier of Texas metro areas. In B-CS, that reflects the addition of an estimated 3,200 jobs over the last 12 months, 1,200 of which were added in the “government” employment sector (state, federal, and local, and again, employment at Texas A&M University is categorized as “state government”).
The May unemployment rate of 3.2 percent has not been that low since May 2007, and has not been lower than that over the entire history of the B-CS Economic Index.