2019 Economic Forecast
Areas of Economic Strength
Areas of Economic Weakness
Outlook for Specific Sectors
2018 home prices and house sales were up 2%, with some flattening in the Fall. Housing starts were up for the 12 months, but dropped in the 4th quarter due to higher mortgage rates (which have since backed off). 2018 saw good sales of existing homes. Commercial construction was helped by the ball park. 2019 should have housing starts around 450, and commercial construction will be steady, as several big projects finish. Home prices should be up 3%.
2018 job growth slowed, and retail sales were flat for the first six months, as internet shopping hurt. Overall sales were good, and the 4th quarter saw improvements in all categories. 2019 should have retail sales up at least 3%, as wages have increased and the economy stays at current levels.
Car sales and prices should be up slightly.
Consumer Price Index (Amarillo)
Amarillo prices were up 3%, with increases in groceries and utilities. The national number was a little lower.
Wages were up due to the tight job market (2.5% unemployment-2nd lowest in Texas). Job growth slowed in the last half of 2018. Gains were primarily in construction, education & health and hospitality. The household sector was up slightly on a 12-month average basis, but the employer’s survey was down. Unemployment remains very low. 2019 should show steady growth in area employment, as major employers see production staying the same.
Tarriffs and drought negatively impacted crop production prices in 2018. Early season drought caused terrible wheat crop and slow start for row crops. Cotton prices impacted and irrigated cotton yields were good.
Cattle price and profits were volatile, with measurable losses during the second and third quarters, but most were profitable for the year. Hedging helped offset some losses on cattle.
Dairies faired reasonably well, as lowered prices were offset by lower input costs and most should profit.
Oil had a great run up in 2018, but gave most of it back in December going from $70 back to $45.
Natural Gas prices were mostly $2.80, until a spike in November and December took them over $4 (some of this was caused by higher prices for liquids pulling up gas prices). Oil fell due to over production and the world situation. The price drop pulled down liquids and natural gas with it. 2019 forecasts are for oil to get back into the $50 to $60 range, but natural gas will drop below $3 due to the high volumes of production in the U.S. Drilling is 30% more efficient, area rigs should stay around 20 for 2019.
2018 saw good improvement in Airline Boardings (up 5.26%) and the Motel tax (up 5.31%). New construction has brought on more motel rooms and higher prices, which help the tax revenue. 2019 should show a motel tax increase of about 4% (helped by new Ballpark), with Airline Boardings flattening to about a 2% growth.
Bankruptcies were up slightly, even though the job market has been strong. They are trending in a range for the last seven years.
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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