Amarillo’s economy is ending the year on a more solid footing than we saw last March. Employment came back, retail sales were strong, and housing carried us throughout the year.
Our Household Survey shows a decrease of 8,700 jobs from a year ago, while the Employers’ Survey has a drop of 6,300. Both of these numbers are level with a month ago. Our bank believes the government shutdown accounts for 95% of the job losses and we hope the recovery sees those jobs return. Wages are up 5% from last December.
Retail sales are up 7% from 12 months ago. Year to Date sales are up 3%. Car sales had a bad month, with new car sales down 4% and used car sales down 20%. The virus outbreak this Fall led to less travelers, and airline boardings were down 46%. This is an improvement from last Spring when they were down 90%. Big news is Motel Tax receipts are up from last year, as auto travel replaced airline.
Housing finishes the year strong with low rates at 2.6% and this month’s housing starts are up 64% from 12 months ago. Year to Date starts are up 19% from last year. Realtors say the first 9 months of the year were at an all time high for the number of houses sold and activity has slowed down some due to seasonality. Housing is expected to remain strong in 2021. Commercial permits were boosted by a $22 million apartment project on Farmers Avenue.
Energy prices are better, with oil at $47 (down 20% from a year ago), and natural gas prices at $2.62, up 12%. There are no drilling rigs operating in the Panhandle.
Fall crops gave a boost to the Panhandle economy that equals most years, after adding in government payments. Cattle prices are down 8%, but are still making about $20 a head coming out of the feedyards. Dairies’ profits are shrinking, with milk prices down 17% from a year ago.
The new stimulus bill will support retail sales; and more PPP loans should work for about half the businesses that got loans in the first two rounds.
*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.
Trends and Comparisons
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