Best in Texas job growth, strong retail sales set another record for CNB's economic report
A massive amount of cars damaged during Hurricane Harvey
are being stored at the Texas World Speedway.
The best job-growth rate in Texas and a huge jump in retail sales helped the Bryan-College Station Economic Index to another record in July at 154.2 – up a full point from May, a tenth over June and up 2.5 percent over July a year ago.
“Things are good, still seeing good loan demand,” said Tom Maynard, Commerce National Bank’s senior vice president and regional manager.
Here are Tom’s key takeaways from the July report.
Auto sales were down 12.1 percent in July over the same month a year ago, but sales are starting to pick up because of the massive damage Hurricane Harvey did to vehicles more than a month ago.
“Car dealers are seeing sales picking up because of vehicles that flooded during Hurricane Harvey. There’s a shortage of used cars because dealers are not getting trade-ins because cars are ruined,” he said.
“Many of the cars that were flooded during Hurricane Harvey are being stored at the Texas World Speedway, south of town. The number of cars being stored there awaiting disposition from the insurance companies is unbelievable,” he said.
Wage and salary employment was up 3.6 percent over July of last year and the 3.5 percent unemployment rate is down 16.7 percent from July of 2016.
The job growth number makes the BCS metro area number one in Texas, displacing Dallas-Plano-Irving, which is now in second place at 3.1 percent.
“We have lots of new hotels and restaurants with new developments and that’s creating more jobs in the service-hospitality sector,” said Maynard.
There was a mixed bag of construction numbers comparing July to July of last year – value of all construction down 32.8 percent, single family housing permits up 18.2 percent, number of home sales up 8.1 percent, average home sale price down 6 percent – but the numbers are still near historic highs.
“Overall, it’s still good,” said Maynard, explaining a couple of big projects – like Century Square – push the value numbers way up.
The recent hurricane may also affect construction in a couple of ways, he said.
Randy French of Stylecraft Builders told Tom there is a lot of sheetrock needed in Houston for repairs from the massive storm and expects the price of sheetrock to rise.
Also, there’s a lot of manual labor needed in storm-struck areas and BCS-area companies may have to pay more to keep workers here.
“That’s something that could raise the price of construction, but it has not happened yet. It’s something they’re really watching,” said Maynard.