paint S.A. economy as still hearty
Web Posted: 03/09/2007
01:04 AM CST
Although the local economy may not
grow at a breakneck pace this year, two reports released Thursday
reinforced San Antonio's standing as a vibrant economy that is
withstanding the woes afflicting the nation's economy.
"Overall, the message from the
numbers for 2006 has been it was a great year for San Antonio," said Joe
Krier, president of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. "San
Antonio has been on a roll and continues on a roll."
The chamber's fourth-quarter
economic report showed that the unemployment rate fell again, leaving San
Antonio with the second-lowest rate of the state's major cities behind
Austin. Sales-tax rebates grew by nearly 11 percent in the quarter from a
year earlier, and commercial real estate filled up at a healthy clip. The
city in the fourth quarter hit five-year lows for vacancy rates in office
space and industrial space.
Also Thursday, job numbers released
by the Texas Workforce Commission showed the area overall experienced a
Travis Tullos, an economist who
heads the chamber's economic analysis panel, said a housing slump has been
blamed for much of the turmoil in the economy nationally. San Antonio, on
the other hand, still offers "great affordability" in housing and is doing
well compared with residential markets elsewhere, Tullos said.
The chamber's numbers showed
existing home sales fell by 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter from a year
earlier, but the average home price was up by 6.5 percent to $171,815.
Metrostudy has reported that builders started a record 19,092
single-family homes last year and will build 17,000 more this year, which
would be the second-best number behind 2006.
"Some cities would kill for those
homebuilding numbers," Krier said.
The Texas Workforce Commission jobs
numbers for January showed a fairly typical slump in hiring for the month,
but 3.2 percent job growth for the year ending in January. That equates to
25,300 new jobs for the year.
"It's very good growth to move into
a new year with," said Aaron Smith, Alamo WorkSource's labor market
analyst. "Couple that rate of employment expansion with low unemployment
... and what we have is a job market that is providing area residents with
extremely good career growth opportunities."
San Antonio's unemployment rate in
January rose to 4.4 percent from 3.8 percent in December. But it was lower
than the 4.9 percent recorded in January last year and is the strongest
January rate the area has experienced since 4.1 percent in 2001, Smith
Nationally, unemployment reached a
four-month high in January at 4.6 percent. Statewide, it was 4.5 percent.
Both of those rates, unlike the area unemployment total, are adjusted for
For the month, San Antonio lost
11,300 jobs, the biggest hits coming in sectors covering educators and the
retail trade, which typically sustain losses in January. Smith said the
drop-off in January has often been steeper than this year, although
retailers fared worse this year than last with a loss of 5,000 jobs.
Krier said job growth has continued
in San Antonio because existing businesses are doing well. While growth
may not continue this year at the historic levels it reached the past two
years, Krier believes it should remain strong.
"We've just gone from being fabulous
(in 2006) to being great this year," Krier said.