Data lag about the economy for local areas is finally catching up with the news about national stats.
So, if the nation is past the recession, where is our own community. According to new compilations of data available from the FDIC, we too are out of the recession. The Fed's Regional Economic Conditions (RECON) was originally designed to assist the FDIC in the examination process by providing economic information at the state, MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), and county levels. It is helpful in the analysis of risks facing financial institutions.
Using RECON, anyone with Internet access is able to drill down to any state, MSA, or county to view standard graphs, tables, and maps depicting economic conditions and how they have changed over time.
Our drill down produced these results (data is available for Pierce County, the Tacoma Metropolitan Division - which is Pierce County, or both):
Total Housing Permit Growth in Pierce County had been doing better than Washington State or national stats for about the previous year, until the final quarter of 2009. While these larger areas picked up sooner, Pierce County is also showing improvement.
And for an anecdotal perspective, consider The News Tribune's recent article about apartment construction. Noted industry specialist Mike Scott, Dupre and Scott, observed that Pierce County vacancy was 7.6% this spring, falling to 5.2% in the fall.
Employment Growth shows an even more marked improvement. The low point for the nation, Washington and the Tacoma metro was the third quarter of 2009. None have yet hit positive growth numbers, but the trend shows clearly we're approaching a breakeven point for employment growth.
And yes, this employment growth (or slowing loss) has translated into improvement in the unemployment. Again, all three levels of government show a trending dip in unemployment after hitting its peak in the first quarter of 2010.
Although the Feds haven't produced info on retail sales, the BE (Business Examiner) Daily (online newsletter) yesterday reported that taxable retail sales during the second quarter of 2010 inched up 0.76% in Pierce County and 0.17% in Thurston County, when Washington suffered a statewide decline of 1%.
A particularly bright spot reported by the BE Daily was that sales of new and used cars were up 4.3% to $1.8 billion and accommodations (hotels) and food services (restaurants) were up by 2.4% to $2.9 billion.
What's been the most obvious difference in our local economy, as compared to the nation and even our neighbors within the state: 18,000 soldiers returned from deployment - beginning in the second quarter 2010. That return extended through the third quarter, so more good news is hoped for when next quarter's data comes out.