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Economic News

Despite Recession, Some Cities are Recovering Well



Pockets of good news

austin skylineThere is a lot of doom and gloom in the news regarding the real estate industry, but despite the downturn, there are cities that are emerging from the housing with strong indicators of recovery. has named Austin, TX and Washington, D.C. as tied for the two cities where the recession is easing and the housing markets are stabilizing.

Having recently moved from D.C. to Austin, D’Ann Faught with The Goodlife Team said, “While they are both recovering from the economy, I feel that it is for different reasons. Washington DC, by nature, is a very transient part of the country. The existence of our nation’s government, and everything that means for a market (consulting, contract, and political jobs), will continue to keep the Washington DC market strong.”

Faught continued, saying, “Austin, by contrast, is recovering in my opinion, because it never really experienced the huge hit that other markets took. If you look at home values since the early 2000s, Austin has had smaller movements, slight increases and decreases, rather than massive upswings. In addition, the growing technological field and the city’s efforts to attract new businesses, combined with the fact that it is still an affordable, but wonderful, place to live, make Austin primed to bounce back from this economy.”

But not all cities are in the recovery process like Austin or Washington, D.C. Doug Hill, Associate Broker at Coldwell Banker said, “The Greater Phoenix area, where I practice real estate, has a higher unemployment rate and a lower average annual salary than both of these areas. This is being amplified by the fact that Arizona’s growth has often depended on more people migrating into the state than out of. Since this is not happening right now, many markets here including real estate and construction are still suffering.”

Affordable Suburbs

While metro areas garner much of the attention of news outlets, BusinessWeek has outlined the most affordable suburbs by state and of all suburbs in America, with the overall winner being Fishers, Indiana.

Vanessa Wong of Business Week reports, “Favorable real estate values are not the only thing that Fishers has to offer. The town scored high points for livability, safety, education, and economic performance. Fishers’ unemployment rate was 6.5% in December 2009, compared to 9.8% statewide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, the rate of violent crime and property crime here is far below the national average.”

So it’s not all doom and gloom, there are bright spots in our housing futures across the nation. How is your market?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Lori

    March 5, 2010 at 1:20 am

    I never considered that REALOR®s would do better in “political” cities. Of course they would! Austin can handle whatever comes at it because it’s a “roll with the punches” type town.

    Every day I’m more and more grateful that we live here.

    Viva (La) #Austin !!!

  2. Ted Mackel

    March 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    The news stopped reporting a decade ago. They are another form of entertainment. They need viewers to sell ads so their stories are embellished to get you to tune in. The Newspaper service is in worse shape and try even hard with a huge overdose of sensationalism.

    The reality is not fun and not sexy so it does not get reported. The fact is that my industry wants to spin the market into recovery; my colleagues want to spin the market into recovery and the rest of us sane people would rather watch it self heal into recovery as it is doing behind the scenes.

    We are seeing some really positive signals in my market, HOWEVER, proceed with caution. The stabilization and recovery is going to be long and slow and sometimes it will not look like any progress is being made. Houses are places to raise a family, they are not a Wall Street commodity, it’s just taking my generation a longer time to realize this.

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?



NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<


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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.



young executives

job openings

Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.


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Economic News

Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?

Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.



gas tax


Gas taxes and your bottom line

Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.

Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.


Supporters and opponents are polar opposites

Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.

Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.

While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.

Is a gas tax politically plausible?

Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”

Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”

Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.

Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.

“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”

Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.

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