In June, there was little good news for the Coos economy. It retreated on all fronts, except the estimated wage and salary. The housing sector continued to struggle without the home-buyer tax credit. The hospitality industry could not dodge the fall either. Both of its indicators – the estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic – fell. Waning forces of recovery was more evident in the labor market. The number of employed residents declined three months in a row after steadily improving in the first quarter of the year. Industrial electricity sales also fell, suggesting that rejuvenated production activity in the region may be slowing too.
The State economy was sluggish. Although the State Index bounced back after slipping in May, half of the component indicators turned down. The stagnant labor market is most worrisome. The pace of increase in the number of employed residents has slowed steadily in the past four months, indicating that a turn to losing employed residents may be imminent. This contradicts the falling unemployment rate widely reported within the State as evidence supporting improving economic conditions. This decline in the unemployment rate is in essence a statistical coincidence, which has more to do with the shrinking labor force than the improving labor market. That is, many are no longer counted as “unemployed” not because they found a job, but because they stopped looking for work due to gloomy job prospects.
In May, the economic rebound slowed for the Coos economy. Although the Coos Coincident Index managed to edge up for the fifth month in a row, only two of six component indicators contributed to the increase. Moreover, the rate of increase in the Index has slowed over the past two months. A jump in the estimated wage and salary was largely responsible for the increase in the Index. Industrial electricity sales inched up as well. However, no other indicators offered positive news. The number of employed residents slipped for two consecutive months, pointing to the sliding labor market. Both indicators of the hospitality industry – the estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts – fell. Lastly, two consecutive decreases in home sales are indicative of the vulnerable housing market without the federal tax credit program.
The State economy did not fare much better. The New Hampshire Coincident Index slipped for the first time in four months. Half of the six component indicators contributed to the loss. On a positive note, industrial electricity sales bounced back, suggesting that the manufacturing sector chugged along. The number of employed residents edged up, but the rate of increase has slowed steadily in the last three months, pointing to a still fragile labor market. Along with the estimated rooms and meals revenues, the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts nose-dived, pointing to the vulnerable hospitality industry. Home sales took a plunge, as expected, with the expiration of the federal tax credit program.
In April, the Coos Coincident Index advanced for four months in a row. But, only three of six component indicators contributed to the increase. On the positive note, industrial electricity sales remained strong, pointing to the revitalizing production activity in the county. The estimated rooms and meals revenues rebounded sharply, while the estimated wage and salary disbursements kept expanding. On the negative note, the number of employed residents fell back after advancing three months in a row, suggesting a yet fragile revival of the labor market. Home sales unexpectedly dropped before the end of the federal tax credit program. The average Saturday vehicle traffic counts contracted, painting a mixed picture on the hospitality industry.
On the other hand, the State economy exhibited vivid signs of improvements. The New Hampshire Coincident Index expanded three months in a row. All but one component indicator contributed to the increase. The number of employed residents advanced four months in a row, indicating the steadily improving labor market. Home sales soared thanks to the federal tax credit. Both rooms and meals revenues and Saturday vehicle traffic counts advanced, signaling the reviving State’s hospitality industry. However, industrial electricity sales took a step backward after posting a solid gain in March, suggesting that the recovery in the State’s manufacturing sector is still fragile.
In March, the Coos economy exhibited strong signs of improvement. The Coos Coincident Index advanced three months in a row, contributed by all but one indicator that makes up the index. The number of employed residents continued to increase, indicating the improving labor market. Industrial electricity sales rebounded sharply, pointing to an increase in production activity in the county. Home sales soared as the federal tax credit draw in buyers before its expiration in April. The picture in the hospitality industry was mixed; rooms and meals revenues fell while the average Saturday traffic counts were up.
On the other hand, the State economy still is digging itself out of recession. Although the New Hampshire Coincident Index did manage to inch up two months in a row, the increase was weak. A plunge in rooms and meals revenues was responsible for this feeble increase in the Index, partially offsetting gains in other sectors. The number of employed residents advanced, indicating the rebounding labor market. Industrial electricity sales jumped sharply, suggesting that the State’s production activity is back on the rise again after a brief interruption caused by the windstorm. A rebound in home sales points to a relief in the housing market, thanks to the federal tax credit.
In spring 2010, housing market indicators suggest that it is a good time to buy. The median home price is substantially lower than its peak in 2008 despite recent increases. Together with historically low mortgage rates, low prices make homes more affordable than ever in recent years. In fact, the Housing Affordability Index currently is higher than any point since 1999. In addition, the price-to-rent ratio fell back to the normal levels and is the lowest since 2002, suggesting that the bubble built up during 2000’s have been deflated. Stabilizing labor market should also have a positive effect on the local real estate market. However, it remains to be seen how the housing market will perform after the home buyer tax credit expires in April. It is too early to be overly optimistic about the future prospect of housing market, particularly because the number of foreclosures still remains at high levels.
At the state level, a similar pattern is observed. Median home price is substantially lower than its peak in 2006 and back to levels not seen since 2001. With mortgage rates at historically low levels, homes have recently been more affordable than ever since 1998 when the Index starts keeping track of home affordability. The price-to-rent ratio also fell to a level lower than any point since 2000. Improving labor market is another encouraging sign. However, the recent stabilization in the market is largely contributed by the home buyer tax credit, which expires in April. It remains to be seen whether the revitalizing real estate market is strong enough to continue rebounding after April without helping hands from the federal government.
In February, a massive windstorm put a damp on the economy that would otherwise have shown stronger forces of recovery. The Coos Coincident Index inched down, for which a plunge in industrial electricity sales was largely responsible. During the power outage, productive activity came to a halt. Otherwise, March report would have posted a brighter picture of the County economy. Labor market continued to rebound as the number of the employed rose. Real estate market jumped although modestly. The picture in hospitality industry was mixed; rooms and meals revenues fell while the average Saturday traffic counts were up.
On the other hand, the State economy continued its course to recovery, despite the windstorm and power outage that swept the entire State. Labor market continued to rebound. Both the number of people with a job and estimated wages moved higher. Hospitality industry also exhibited signs of improvement. Rooms and meals revenues remained strong while the average Saturday traffic counts rebounded sharply. However, housing sector did not fare as well. Home sales continued to fall in recent month, which was contributed by the expiration of the first-time home buyer tax credit in November. A positive effect of the credit extension is not expected until spring.
As NCEI still is being shaped during the first trial year, new features may be found every month. Newly added in March is a special report on the housing market. It will likely be a semi-annual report and should be up on the Web by the first Monday in April. In addition, the About page is revised to include a variety of community-level data sources for anybody interested in the North Country.
In January, the Coos economy showed signs of stabilization. Improvement was seen across the sectors including manufacturing, hospitality and even the labor market. Manufacturing activities soared, as tracked by industrial electricity sales. Persistent increases in the coming months could be seen as revitalizing manufacturing industry. Hospitality industry remained strong as rooms and meals revenues continued its upward trend since hitting the lowest point in 2008. Even the labor market exhibited signs of relief as the number of people who have a job inched up for the month. On a year-over-year basis, losses in employment have slowed steadily in recent months, an indication that a turn toward adding jobs could be imminent. Real estate market did not fare as well, as home sales plunged.
The Coös County economy continues to fall with no clear end in sight, while the State economy shows signs of stabilization.