I’m glad to announce that a paper on the NCEI project was presented to an academic conference in November. Before and after the presentation, the NCEI methodology had been carefully reviewed. As a result, two major modifications were made. First, 12 month moving average was adopted for all the component indicators, except for number of employed residents. By far, the biggest challenge in the NCEI’s inaugural year was the volatility in the data, which made very difficult to interpret month-to-month changes. Analyses showed that the use of 12 month moving average dramatically reduced the volatility problem while still approximating the business cycle. In addition, it avoided errors associated with seasonal adjustment process, thus increasing the accuracy of the report. Secondly, home sales series was excluded from the construction of the NCEI index in order to improve its conformity to the business cycle. Home sales series appears to have been decoupled from the business cycle for the past two decades. However, it will still be included in the report due to the importance of the real estate market to the economy. We believe these measures will make it easier to read changes in the direction of the economy. The detailed information will be posted in the methodology page in January.
The new and improved NCEI exhibits that the Coos economy had been stagnant in much of the early 2010, but slowly advanced in the second half. In November, the County Index advanced for the fifth consecutive month on a year-over-year basis. The production activity remained strong; the industrial electricity sales series was up from prior year. The hospitality sector did better than last year as well. Both the estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts marked higher than where they were a year ago. In particular, a rebound in rooms and meals revenues was remarkable; it recuperated its pre-Great Recession level. However, the news from the labor market was mixed. The number of employed residents was up from where it was a year ago, while the estimated total wages and salaries continued to slide.
The signs of recovery were much clearer in the State’s economy. The State Index advanced three months in a row on a year-over-year basis at an increasing pace. The recovery seemed to have gained traction. The encouraging signs were apparent in the labor market. Both the number of employed residents and the estimated total wages and salaries are up from prior year. The manufacturing sector continued its expansion as well. However, the recovery wasn’t so strong in the hospitality sector. The estimated rooms and meals revenues remained stagnant.
The November report reflects the traffic counts series, which was revised to improve its conformity to the business cycle. In October, the Coos economy showed encouraging signs for recovery. The Coos Index was up from where it stood a year ago for the first time since April. The labor market seemed to have gained some strength; the number of employed residents expanded two months in a row on a year-over-year basis. The hospitality industry did better than a year ago, although it wasn’t nearly enough to boost the business owners’ confidence in the industry. Both the estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts marked higher than where they were a year ago. The only blemish in the news was the housing sector. Home sales remained nearly half the October 2009 level.
Likewise, the revised data revealed that the State economy remained strong. The State Index advanced for the seventh month in a row on a year-over-year basis. For the second consecutive month, it posted a 1.7% gain, the largest since the beginning of the recession. The steadily improving labor market was most impressive. The number of employed residents expanded six months in a row on a year-over-year basis at an increasing pace. However, the stumbling housing market remained as a threat to recovery. Home sales took a step backward after having recovered from hiccups after the expiration of the federal home buyer tax credit.
In September, the Coos economy was still in the mud. The housing market showed no signs of recovery from the expiration of the home buyer tax credits. The number of homes sold remained nearly half the level seen a year ago. The production activity took a sudden plunge; the industrial electricity sales plummeted. Hoteliers in the region told that many in the industry would go out of business unless the economy turned around soon. The data coincided with the sentiment. Both the estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic counts were down from a year ago. On a positive note, though, the labor market advanced. The number of employed residents was up from the level seen a year ago for the first time since February 2008.
On the other hand, the revised data revealed that the State economy may have resumed its course to recovery. Both the labor market and the housing sector brought encouraging signs. The rate of increase in the number of employed residents on a month-to-month basis, which had steadily slowed to fall into the negative territory in July, has since bounced back and reaccelerated. The number of homes sold, although still lower than where it stood a year ago, continued to recover from the hick ups after the expiration of the federal home buyer tax credits. The manufacturing sector remained as strength of the economy, as indicated in the industrial electricity sales. The hospitality industry also did better than a year ago. The estimated rooms and meals revenues kept up on a year-over-year basis.
This month’s report reflects some major revisions to the data. Models – constructed to estimate the current values of rooms and meals revenues, and wages and salaries – were revised to increase accuracy. In addition, industrial electricity sales series for Coos County has been corrected by data provider. Unfortunately, these revisions helped heighten concerns that recovery might be slipping away. The stumbling housing market remained a major obstacle for recovery. The labor market showed no signs of improvement either. However, the hospitality industry remained strong as warm weather continued to draw tourists to the region. The estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic both stayed up from where they were a year ago. The county’s production activity chugged along, as well. Industrial electricity sales remained up from where it was a year ago, but there were signs that it too had been slowing down.
The State Index fell below where it stood a year ago for the first time since March after steady declines in recent months. The stagnant labor market and the stumbling housing sector largely contributed to this fall. The hospitality sector struggled as well, despite the warm weather. The estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic both fell from the July’s level. On a more positive note, the manufacturing industry chugged along, as reflected in a continued upward trend in industrial electricity sales.
In July, warm weather salvaged the economy that would otherwise have been marred by the stumbling housing sector. Home sales plunged more than 40% after the end of the home-buyer tax credit. Otherwise, it was a good month for the Coos economy. Labor market unexpectedly rebounded. Industrial electricity sales were up, suggesting a continued improvement in the county’s production activity. However, it was warm weather that provided the largest boost to the economy in the midst of heightened concerns over the fledgling recovery. The estimated rooms and meals revenues and the average Saturday vehicle traffic both advanced, pointing to increased tourist activity. However, the boost to the hospitality sector is likely to be temporary and wane as the hot summer season comes to an end.
The State economy has seen a similar boost to the hospitality sector brought by warm weather in July. In addition, manufacturing activity remained strong, as reflected in a continued upward trend in industrial electricity sales. However, recent developments in the labor and housing market portend a tough road ahead in the State’s economy. The number of employed residents fell for the first time since December. Home sales plunged after the end of the home-buyer tax credit.
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.