Sunday, April 20, 2014

Economy Goes Pfft. Jobs Drop Again in March.

A pffft was the sound from the New Mexico economy as the first quarter closed with a third consecutive month of job losses. The Department of Workforce Solutions released the numbers April 18.
The March drop was 1,000 jobs, or 0.1 percent, from March 2013.
Sector behavior was all over the place and without a sense of trend for this observer.
The best sector news comes from the 1,400-job increase in mining. Things in addition to oil and gas, potash for example, are happening, though, with the usual lack of detail, the impact is unknown to us semi-wonk people. We hear that any hotel room is Carlsbad is a rare commodity, much less a reasonable room for a reasonable price. “Way back when,” in March 2005, mining had 15,700 jobs split with 11,700 in oil and gas and 3,800 in actual mining. The total today is 26,900 for all mining.
Finance leads the oddity group with a 1,900-job, or six percent, increase over the year. Insurance provides a third of the finance jobs. Other major finance groups are banks, savings institution and “credit intermediation.” The March 2014 employment is 34,800. The growth is baffling. DWS observes, “Recent (finance) growth has been much higher than what is typically reported for the sector.” Well, OK. Why?
Retail provided the second oddest news with a 2,100-job increase. A growing retail sector would seem to need a growing economy and/or firms with deep pockets making long-term bets. But on what?
The continuing shrinkage of manufacturing hurts. Also “way back when,” in March 2005, manufacturing had 35,000 wage jobs. Today it is 26,800 jobs. To some degree, the manufacturing jobs have migrated to mining and to Lea and Eddy counties from Albuquerque.
Leisure and hospitality added 1,500 jobs. Professional and business services lost 1,500.
Local government education was the government loser for March, down 1,900 jobs. Federal employment dropped 1,100.
More details to come April 25.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pending Home Sales Up 20%

A 20% jump in pending sales from February was the big change during March for metro Albuquerque sales of single family detached homes. Pending sales went from 793 during February to 950 for March, a 20% increase.
March marked the third consecutive month for pending sales to be less than the same month of 2013. The 950 pending sales were 14.3% behind March 2013. Pending sales of attached homes (townhouses and condominiums) also dropped, year over year, for the third month.
The Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors released the March sales report yesterday, the 10th, the usual release day.
Sales per day increased during March, eliminating the argument that increasing total sales don’t count because March had three more days than February. But during March the sale closed on an average of 22,4 homes each day. For February, 19.6 was the average per day for sales closed. Total closed sales during March were 695, a 26%, or 145 unit, increase from February.
During March 2013 and February 2014, there were 59 attached homes sold. Sales were 62 units during March 2014, a 5.1% increase.
Prices showed little movement during March. The median price, $170,000, was up $1,000 from February and down $5,000, or 2.9%, from March 2013. The average price, $202,672, increased $67 from March 2013 and $4,200 from February.
Homes did sell more quickly during March. The average sales period was 74 days, a nine-day improvement from February and a day more than March 2013.

Monday, April 7, 2014

NM Economy Worst in Nation, Again

In the new issue of Department of Workforce Solutions “Labor Market Review” newsletter, DWS’ old words for losing jobs appeared lead headline, which said the state’s “rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing February 2014 with February 2013, was negative 0.2 percent, representing a loss of 1,900 jobs.”
Only on page 16, in a table, did DWS remember to mention that our “growth rate” for the year was the worst in the nation, tied with Kentucky. The news was buried about as deep as it could go without omitting it entirely.
DWS does have a new word for “losing,” as in “losing” jobs (or lost jobs. DWS offers us “contracted,” as in “The Albuquerque MSA total nonfarm employment contracted by 1.2 percent over the year (between February 2013 and February 2014) with a loss of 4,500 jobs.” That means the rest of the state added 2,600 jobs.
Albuquerque’s private sector dropped 3,900 jobs. Government chipped in another 600. The big sector hits in Albuquerque mirrored the statewide results. Professional and business services led with a decline of 1,400 jobs, followed by manufacturing, -1,000; leisure and hospitality, -1,000; and information,-900.
Wage jobs “contracted” in Santa Fe, too, “by 0.3%, representing a loss of 200 jobs.” For Farmington, DWS went with the old standard, “decreased,” to describe the city’s situation of 600 fewer jobs, or 1.2% less, over the year.