The economy ended the year a little worse than a year ago as wages, construction and commodities ended at lower levels.
Retail sales are up 1% from 12 months ago and year to date are up 2%. New car sales are up 20% and used car sales are up 13% from this time last year.
The two employment surveys tell us that job growth has come to a halt. There are about 700 more people working in the Household Survey, but the Employers’ Survey shows a decrease of 600 jobs. The unemployment rate is at 2.5%. These numbers indicate what full employment levels are for the Panhandle. Wages are down 4% from a year ago, even with the low unemployment levels, as we have lost some high paying jobs.
Commercial and Residential Construction are both down from last year. Residential starts for the month are flat with a year ago, but year to date numbers are down 20%. Construction in Progress is down 30% from a year ago.
Housing is resilient, with home prices up 16% and 30-year mortgage rates low at 4.13%.
Commodity news is mixed. The late rains mean there was not much wheat planted. Wheat prices are flat with a year ago. Cotton was profitable even though there was less crop and lower prices (down 18%). Corn was hit by last Summer’s volatile weather and farmers planted less in 2019. Prices are up 2%
Dairies turned things around this year. With $19 milk (up from $14.50 a year ago), dairies have been profitable for most of 2019. Feedyards are seeing profits of between $60 - $100 per head and prices are flat with a year ago.
Oil and Gas had a rough year. There are only 6 drilling rigs currently operating (down from 19 last year) in the Panhandle since natural gas prices are so low ($2.34 / down 34%). Oil prices are still at $60.
*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.
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