Spring 2014

July 9th, 2014 by Daniel Lee

Recovery continued at modest pace.

The economic activity increased in Coos County between spring 2014 and spring 2013. The economy registered positive growth for the fifth consecutive quarter on a year-over-year basis, although the pace of growth declined two straight quarters. Four of the five component indicators were up from their 2013 spring levels. The tourism sector continued to lead the county’s economic recovery; both average Saturday vehicle traffic counts and spending at lodgings remained up from the prior year. The good-producing sector gained momentum; industrial electricity sales increased two consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis. As a cautionary note, there were some early indications that the recovery may be slowing down. Number of employed residents declined from prior year for the first time since winter 2013. In addition, the pace of growth in spending at lodgings declined two straight quarter. The County’s housing market hit the brakes; both housing sales and median home prices were lower than their 2013 spring levels.

The State’s economic recovery gained momentum and widespread in spring 2014. The State Index increased 15 consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis. The pace of growth rose two straight quarters. All five component indicators remained up from the prior year. The industrial sector gained momentum; industrial electricity sales grew nine consecutive quarters and its pace of growth increased three straight quarters. The labor market stayed the course on recovery; the pace of increases in the number of employed residents accelerated. The tourism sector continued to be a force behind the recovery; both average Saturday vehicle traffic counts and spending at lodgings were higher than their spring 2013 levels. The state’s housing market showed signs of cooling off; the pace of increases in median home prices slowed for the first time since Fall 2012.

Coincident Index

The Coos Coincident Index, which tracks the current state of the Coos economy, inched up to 90.1 in spring 2014 from winter’s revised value of 90.0. On a quarterly year-over-year basis, the Index increased for the fifth quarter in a row.

 

The New Hampshire Coincident Index increased to 98.3 in spring 2014 from winter’s revised value of 97.6. On a quarterly year-over-year basis, the index increased for the 15th consecutive quarters.

How strong are the forces of change?

In spring 2014, the Coos Coincident Index rose five straight quarters. Four of the five component indicators remained up from their spring 2013 levels. But the pace of growth fell two straight quarters. The State Index increased for the 15th quarter in a row on a quarterly year-over-year basis. All five component indicators remained up from a year ago. The pace of growth increased two quarters in a row.

Household Employment

Household employment measures the number of employed residents. In contrast to non-farm payroll employment that is more commonly used in the national and state indexes, household employment includes self-employed, unpaid domestic help and both farm and non-farm workers, all of which may be more significant in rural than urban economy. Employment tends to rise as economy grows.

 

Rooms Revenue

Rooms revenue represents spending on accommodations paid by travelers. It’s a good hospitality sector’s indicator in the sense that it’s not an estimate, but an official count as reported by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. However, it may not fully reflect changes in the overall activity level in the hospitality sector. Although it tracks a majority of overnight travelers, it excludes day travelers and overnight travelers staying with friends and family and those who have second homes. In the case of the northern regions of the state, the effect of the drawback is less of a concern since day travelers are a small minority due to the distance from the major urban areas.

 

Traffic Counts

It tracks the average vehicle traffic counts on Saturdays each quarter, which is automatically collected from traffic recorders located throughout the State. 12 recorders are selected to reflect traveler traffic in each of the seven travel regions in the State with two recorders from Coos County – Jefferson and Northumberland.

 

Wages and Salaries

The estimated wage and salaries disbursements represent total compensation including pay for vacation, bonuses, stock options, and tips. This data is obtained from all workers covered under state and federal unemployment insurance laws; in other words, it is full population counts, not sample-based estimates. Unlike the household employment report, however, it excludes self-employed, domestic workers, and most agricultural workers. For this difference, wages and salaries series complements the number of employed residents in monitoring the labor market conditions as well as the economy. A change in wages and salaries, adjusted for inflation, may reflect changes in the number of jobs, the ratio between part-time and full-time jobs, and wage rates.

 

Industrial Electricity Sales

It measures sales of electricity (kWh) to industrial customers. Utilities categorize consumers based on the North American Industry Classification System, demand, or usages. The industrial sector includes manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture, fishing, and forestry establishments. Among these industries, manufacturing is a primary industry in Coos County making up 69% (73% for New Hampshire in 2008) of the total number of jobs in the industrial sector mentioned above according to the 2006 QCEW data. Therefore, a rise in industrial electricity sales may largely indicate invigorating manufacturing activities in the economy.

Real Estate

NCEI reports two real estate market indicators – home sales and median home prices. The data tracks residential homes sold, including condos and manufactured homes. The health of the real estate sector is important to the broad economy due to its multiplier effect. Home transactions not only generate income for real estate brokers and mortgage bankers but also bring more businesses in other sectors including moving services, home furnishings and appliances. In order to minimize volatility in Coos real estate market, indicators are averaged over a four quarter period.

Coos County

In spring 2014, the county’s housing market started declining. The volume of home sales, smoothed by four quarter moving average, fell two quarters in a row on a year-over-year basis. The median home price, smoothed by four quarter moving average, decreased for the first time since fall 2011 on a year-over-year basis.

 

New Hampshire

The state’s housing market recovery continued to cool off. The pace of growth in home sales, smoothed by the four-quarter moving average, slowed three quarters in a row. The pace of increases in median home price, smoothed by four quarter moving average, decreased for the first time since the housing market recovery began.

 

Leading Indicators

Leading indicators are to provide a sense of future economic conditions in the state of New Hampshire. The report includes 7 leading indicators grouped into three different categories – 1) four leading indicators for the broad economy of New Hampshire; 2) two leading indicators of the state’s hospitality industry; 3) a leading indicator of the U.S. economy. The list of leading indicators for New Hampshire’s economy includes initial unemployment claims, average weekly hours of work in the total private sector, building permits, and new business formation; the list for the state’s hospitality industry has gas price, and Canadian dollar; the report also includes interest rate spread between 10-year Treasury and federal funds for the U.S. economy. Although the list is by no means exhaustive and indicators often do not go back long enough in time for statistically robust analysis, we believe it can still be a helpful tool. Raw data are processed so as to make it easier to detect a change in the direction of the underlying trend in the economy. In the summary table below, “up” during recession indicates recovery around the corner while “down” during an expansion signals an impending recession. During expansion, the likelihood of recession increases when more indicators turn down persistently. For example, all four leading indicators of NH economy start posting “down” month after month at the beginning of the state’s 2008 recession. The New Hampshire recessions are defined as the period of declines in the New Hampshire Coincident Index published by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank.

In May 2014, only one of the four leading indicators for New Hampshire was up compared to six months ago in their year-over-year growth rate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*These series are inverted so that an “up” means an improvement. Layoff decreases (inverted layoff increases) when the labor market conditions improve; and a decrease in gas prices (an increase in inverted gas prices) may help increase the number of travelers. **”Up” or “down” in this series is a change from prior month as opposed to from 6 months ago.

 

Initial Unemployment Claims

The series is inverted so that an increase means an improvement. Initial claims decrease (inverted initial claims increase) when the labor market condition improves. The number of Initial claims tends to lead the business cycle. The chart demonstrates that it correctly predicted both the beginning and the ending of the past two recessions.

 

Average Weekly Hours of Work in Private Sector

It tends to turn before the economy does because employers often increase work hours of existing workers at the beginning of the recovery before committing to new hires; they do not want to take the risk of committing to new hires and seeing the economy fall back again. This data for New Hampshire only goes back to 2007.

New Business Formation

All companies that want to do business in the state must register at the NH Secretary of State. This data includes all types of businesses including corporations and limited liabilities companies. The number of new businesses tends to lead the business cycle. Although this series goes back only to 2006, it correctly predicted the beginning and ending of the state’s 2008 recession. The series is smoothed by 12 month moving average.

Building Permits for Single Family Homes

It’s often the case housing recovery leads the broad economy out of recession. This is because of its extensive ripple effect over the rest of the economy. Building construction requires inputs from many other industries such as window manufacturing, logging, plumbing, electricity services, banking, and home furnishings such as consumer electronics and furniture. The 2001 recession was a mild recession and a rare one that did not involve a housing slump. The series is smoothed by four month moving average.

Interest Rate Spread

The interest rate spread, the 10 year Treasury less the Federal Funds, is considered one of the best leading indicators for the national economy. The indicator is the sum of all the past values plus the spread in the current period. Therefore, it decreases when the current spread is negative (the 10 year T rate is lower than the Fed Funds Rate), which is indicative of an impending recession.

 

Canadian Dollar

The value of Canadian dollar (the U.S. dollar per Canadian dollar) is an important indicator of the current and future tourism activity in the State of New Hampshire. Canada is the most important source of foreign travelers in the state. An increase in the value of Canadian dollar makes travel to the U.S. more affordable for Canadians. The chart on the right shows its recent relationship with spending on accommodations by travelers.

Gas Price

It’s the monthly average of weekly New England regular conventional retail gas prices. A significant decrease in gas prices makes traveling more affordable and can help increase the number of travelers to the state. When gas prices increase substantially, traffic counts tend to fall and vice versa. Gas prices are inverted so that an increase indicates improving conditions.

 

Technical Notes

  • Employment is the number of people employed from the household survey.
  • The current values of rooms and meals revenues are estimated using the data obtained from participating local hoteliers.
  • The data series reported in the dollar values are adjusted for inflation.
  • Real Estate data is obtained from the Northern New England Real Estate Network (NNEREN). All analysis and commentary related to the statistics is that of the authors, and not that of NNEREN.

© Copyright 2010: Daniel Lee and Vedran Lelas, College of Business Administration, Plymouth State University.