2013 Statistics Show Increased Economic Growth in San Angelo
The San Angelo economy trended upwards in 2013, said Phil Neighbors, President of the Chamber of Commerce, seeing increases over 2012 in almost all areas the Chamber measures. Particularly successful were building permits and sales tax revenues, which have been on the rise since 2009.
According to the Business Barometer, which is attached to the Chamber’s monthly action reports, there were 8,116 permits issued in 2013, up 52 from the 8,064 issued in 2012. Monetarily, the building permits issued in 2013 brought in over $73 million more in revenues than was received in 2012.
“The building permits for the year 2013 over 2012 is an 80 percent [dollar] increase, which is pretty remarkable,” Neighbors said. “That includes residential, commercial and other [types of permits]. That’s probably the most outstanding increase [of all the categories measured].”
Neighbors said a lot of 2013’s increase in permits was residential, which is associated to the growing population. Houses in the multiple listing system, which are those that can be shown by any realtor, increased by 35 percent, again measured in dollars.” During the beginning of 2013, the residential market was very, very hot,” Neighbors said. “It has slowed a bit now, but it is still very good.”
Sales tax revenues, which have been increasing for the past three and a third years, were up 9.2 percent. December is the biggest month for sales tax revenues each year, and those numbers have not yet come in, meaning the percentage is very possibly higher.
“The sales tax was a 9.2 percent increase…which is great. We’re now on 40 months in a row of an increase over same month previous year. That’s pretty much unprecedented and something to be really proud of,” Neighbors said.
The labor force in San Angelo has continued to grow, although Neighbors described the first part of the year as sluggish, however December of 2013 still showed higher numbers of the employed and a lower unemployment rate than the same month of 2012.
“I’d say there was a real surge—2012 was the fastest growth rate in that area. Four to five years ago we had some decreases in the labor force and the total employment, so it’s good to see the numbers trending up. The growth in that area is a moderate trend…it’s slow to moderate growth,” he said.
With American Eagle now up to five flights a day out of San Angelo, the year-to-date totals of those who enplaned is up 14.8 percent, while those deplaned is up 14.6 percent over 2012.
Although air traffic has increased, hotel/motel occupancy rates dropped 4.4 percent in December 2013 over the same month in 2012, while average rooms prices have risen 34 percent. While many in the community have expressed concern over the building of new hotels, Neighbors suggest it may actually be good for the economy.
“We very much need them (the hotels being built), because with the rates being so high, it’s been very difficult for us to sell leisure tourism or conferences, and meetings and conventions, because the rates were not competitive with our other benchmarks cities,” he said. “With the coming of the additional hotels and rooms, that should have a downward impact on the average daily room rate, and it will also give us more inventory in order to sell and recruit more tourism and commerce into those rooms.”
Based on the trends of past months and years, Neighbors anticipates that 2014 will continue in moderate growth in all sectors, however the hotel/motel numbers may be less impacted as the majority of the new ones being built will be open in 2015.