Professors Vinod Agarwal and Gary Wagner, members of the Old Dominion University Economic Forecasting Team, have provided the following information about the local economy.
General Economic Activity
Comparison of information for 2012 through October to the same time in 2011 shows that:
* The size of the labor force and the number of workers employed has increased, which has resulted in a lower unemployment rate from 7.0 percent to 6.5 percent, according to the Census Bureau's household survey in the Current Population Survey.
* There is also evidence of job growth of 0.6 percent, based on the Current Establishment Survey, which is a survey of payroll jobs.
* New auto registrations are up 12 percent, taxable sales are up 2.6 percent, and hotel revenues are up 4 percent.
* Performance of the Port of Virginia has also improved - general cargo tonnage has increased by 10.4 percent and 20-foot equivalent container units, or TEUs, have increased by 7.6 percent.
* New residential home construction activity has improved as well. The number of 1-unit housing permits increased by 18.2 percent and the value of the permits has increased by 15 percent.
Existing Housing Market
Comparison of 2012 figures through November with the same time in 2011 shows:
* In the existing residential housing market, after a decline in median prices of 19 percent from 2007 to 2011, the median price of existing residential homes increased 2.8 percent in 2012, the first increase since 2007.
* The housing market appears to have started recovering in April 2012. Since that time, median prices have not declined and have increased in seven out of the last eight months.
* The number of existing homes sold has increased by 7.5 percent in 2012 through November.
* In addition to rising median prices and sales volumes, estimated months of supply and the number of active listings have decreased.
* Our concern, with regard to housing, say the ODU professors, continues to be with the volume of distressed homes still on the market. Even though the number of distressed homes sold has declined by 6.6 percent, they continue to represent a sizable portion of the market whether we look at listing or sales.
* Within the distressed sales market, the proportion of short sales is still rising, while the proportion of bank-owned sales has started to decline. This is important because bank-owned properties tend to sell at much lower prices when compared to prices of short sales.