Payroll employment growth in the San Antonio metro area is easing off its previously robust rate. Year over year growth eased in the first half of 2013 from its four-and-a-half year high of 2.6 percent in 2012Q4. The payroll employment growth rate of 1.6 percent in 2013Q2 converged to the national average and has fallen below the region’s labor force growth rate of 2.6 percent. This coincides with the upward tick in the unemployment rate this year, from 6.1 percent in Q1 to 6.2 percent in Q2. Nominal personal income also experienced its slowest year over year growth since 2009Q4, at 2.8 percent for 2013Q1. This is a product of changes in federal tax policy going into the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. The outlook for nominal income growth is expected to improve throughout the remainder of 2013.
Divergent oil and gas prices have had opposite effects on the economy for the region. Natural gas prices averaged $3.73 per mmbtu for the first seven months of 2013. The average year to date active gas rigs in the Eagle Ford basin have decreased by 50.6 percent from 81 in 2012 to 40 in 2013. High oil prices have led to increased levels of oil well drilling activity in the Eagle Ford with a 17.9 percent increase in the average year to date oil rig count from 162 in 2012 to 191 in 2013. There is a continued positive outlook for oil rigs in Q3 with oil prices hitting a monthly average of $104.61 per bbl in July. Conversely, the decrease of 4.5 percent in total average year to date active rig count in the Eagle Ford, from 243 rigs in 2012 to 232 in 2013, has a negative impact on the region’s economy.
Recent housing metrics have cooled, but longer term trends look positive. Starts in both single-family and multifamily housing were down in 2013Q2 from 2013Q1, although total housing starts are still up 8.2 percent from a year ago. FHFA home prices increased 1.9 percent from a year ago in Q1 which is on par with the national average of 2.0 percent. Following national trends, home owners are receiving a positive wealth effect through increasing home values which in turn will support retail sales for the remainder of the year.
Click here for the complete San Antonio MSA Regional Economic Update: SanAntonio 2013Q2.