Dallas

Texas economic indicators remain positive

By David Hendricks\
Published 3:20 pm, Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Despite some mixed economic signals, an index that tracks the Texas economy inched up in September and the state appears to be in growth mode, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported this week.

The stock prices of Texas companies, oil prices and average weekly hours worked were up, while unemployment claims were down — all among the positive gains in the Dallas Fed’s Texas Leading Index for September.

Texas’ unemployment rate fell to 4 percent in September, the lowest level since December 2000.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.2 percent. San Antonio’s jobless rate was 3.9 percent

The strongest economic indicator for Texas was the value of the dollar, which measures the value of the U.S. dollar against the currencies of countries in which Texas trades.

Dallas Fed CEO and President Robert Kaplan, who spoke in San Antonio last week, said the underlying reason for Texas’ positive economic outlook is that the state’s population growth is higher than the nation’s as a whole.

“There is an undeclared war for people. Texas is winning that war,” Kaplan said, citing the state’s current population of about 28 million.

Kaplan also said Texas will benefit from rising oil prices, especially in a period three to five years from now.

Negative indicators for the state were the help-wanted index, which is a measure of job openings, and a fall in the number of permits for oil wells.

The Dallas Fed’s Texas Business Outlook Surveys for September also rose, despite damages from Hurricane Harvey in late August. Survey results were up in the manufacturing, service and retail sectors, with service revenues showing an increase.

Texas exports, however, declined in August by 3.3 percent, compared to an increase in U.S. exports of 0.8 percent. Year-to-date, though, Texas exports are higher by 8.6 percent, while U.S. exports are 3.9 percent higher.

Texas existing-home sales also fell in August by 7.9 percent.

In San Antonio and Austin, the five-month moving average of home sales increased, the average was down in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.

Still, year to date, Texas home sales are 3.9 percent higher in the first eight months when compared to sales volume in the same period last year. Houston experienced the slowest growth.

Texas lost 4,400 jobs in September due to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. But the Dallas Fed predicts state employment will swing back in October.

Texas job growth so far in 2017 is at a 2.2 percent annualized rate, but the Dallas Fed predicted last week that the state will end the year with 2.6 percent growth for the year.

The fastest job growth in Texas during September was in the energy sector with a 24.9 percent annualized growth.

Leisure and hospitality had the biggest decline across Texas in September with job losses at a 15.2 percent annualized rate, but the same sector saw increased hiring in the San Antonio area by 3,300 last month.

“Payrolls in Houston contracted an annualized 8.9 percent in September, while employment in the other major metros rose. Employment has expanded in all Texas major metros year to date,” the Dallas Fed report said.

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Dallas County Market Report PDF (downloadable) 
September 2017 Report