Lubbock economy predicted to bottom out - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/22/09

Lubbock economy predicted to bottom out

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By Ben Lawson - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Analysts say the Lubbock Economic Index is experiencing a downward trend unlike any in its 13 year-history, but now there's new hope this could be the worst we see. The latest numbers, released on Wednesday, suggest the Hub City could be reaching a bottom-out point.

Index sponsors say we shouldn't expect a quick rebound, but they say we could see numbers turn by the end of this year. "Hopefully we're seeing maybe a bottom out effect," Lubbock National Bank Senior Vice President James Arnold said. 

Just like the rain, the Lubbock economy continued to drop Wednesday, as Lubbock National Bank and the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance announced the latest index numbers. Year-to-date, new home permits are down 22 percent when compared to the same period last year. Right now, the city is on track to issue under 700 permits for 2009. That would be the lowest annual total since 1998.

The good news, home values remained steady. Year-to-date, the average sale price is $131.933. That's up slightly from the same period last year.

Auto sales continued to fall, down 28.5 percent, but consumer spending remained steady. "We're continuing in the downward cycle. I think we maybe kind of the last metropolitan area to be pulled into the recession. Hopefully we'll be the first out," Arnold said. 

Arnold says the lack-luster numbers could be a sign that we're reaching the final falls in the local economy, though he doesn't expect the trend to turn quickly. "We're still going to see some decreases in Lubbock, I think, probably through the summer and into the fall, but I would think by the end of the 4th quarter, November, December I think we should see a lot of these numbers start to soon," Arnold said. 

Unemployment has become a bigger concern, locally. The rate spiked to 6 percent in June. That's only the second time Lubbock has reached that number since the index began in 1996. Lubbock is still below the national average of 9.5 percent and the state average of 7.5 percent.

Arnold hopes the spike is just a seasonal trend, and says typically unemployment decreases toward the end of summer. "I think what we're seeing is businesses pull back a little bit, because of the recession, and they maybe trimming their workforce in the 10's, 15's and 20's and so we add all these small businesses together. I think that contributes a large part to that spike in the number," Arnold said. 

Despite the high unemployment rate, the Hub City did add employees over the past 12 months. We'll tell you what industries hired tonight on NewsChannel 11 at ten.

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