Great news for Lubbock, over the last 12 months the city's economy has added an estimated 1,600 jobs, plus Lubbock's unemployment rate is now the third lowest in the state behind Amarillo and Midland. More retail locations are being built and the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance group says that's contributed to the amount of new jobs.
Reports show overall retail sales have been gaining steam over the last six months, activity is up 6% over last year. LEDA says that's an indication more economic growth is in store for Lubbock.
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Existing home sales and construction activity is also up compared to last year, however there is a negative aspect that's stirring concern; gas prices are still near the $2.50 mark. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire tells us LEDA has concerns about the rising cost of gasoline and the economy.
Two years ago the national average was a $1.85, and in 2005 the national average was at $2.27. Right now the national average is $2.58. In Lubbock we found gas ranging from $2.48 to $2.59. Compare that to the Metroplex where you can pay as much as $2.99, in Houston it's up to $2.85 and in San Antonio you'll pay up to $2.64 per gallon.
LEDA President Gary Lawrence says even if fuel costs continue to rise it shouldn't have a negative impact. "It won't be the end of us, it won't be a collapse of our economy, we'll just get off this addiction to oil and we'll be more conservative in how we use it," said Lawrence.
The Energy Information Administration predicts the national average price of gasoline to be around $2.40 throughout 2006 and decrease to $2.36 next year.
LEDA also reports Lubbock utilities have increased over the past 12 months, that's partly because of rising natural gas costs. The average price of natural gas is expected to increase in 2007.
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