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BN Numbers On Jobs, Housing For Fourth Quarter


The jobs picture in Bloomington-Normal continues to improve, while the housing market consists of a "glass half full" picture, according to Mike Doherty, senior economist with the Bloomington-based Illinois Farm Bureau, and the presenter for the fourth quarter's BN By the Numbers event at ISU Thursday.

"We're getting into what economists refer to as 'excessive employment' where you start worrying if you have enough people and you start raising your wage rates to attract people into the jobs," Doherty said during GLT's Sound Ideas.

"For October, we seemed to have a slight rebound on our hands. Let's hope that continues for November and December," Doherty added. Due to the timing of the event, accurate figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are available only for October.

Regarding home sales, Doherty said they continue to just "waffle along."

"We're just not seeing much of a recovery with new home sales. The good news is they have plateaued and aren't going down," he added.

For existing homes, sales decreased slightly for the year through October.

"Three percent isn't all that significant. We've had some changes in mortgage interest rates the last few months. This October figure might represent the tail end of that," he added.

Below are notes for the BN By the Numbers event on unemployment and housing.

Local Area Unemployment Rate  Continues downward to all-time lows

Bloomington-Normal Unemployment rate came it at 4.8% in October, matched by Champaign-Urbana and slightly higher than Springfields 4.5% unemployment rate but less than the unemployment rate for Illinois at 5.5% in October, Chicago at 5.5%, as well as that of nearby metros, such as Peoria at 5.9% rate and Decatur’s 6.2% unemployment rate.

Another bit of good news is the Labor Force participation and Employment numbers for Blm-Normal showed a significant gain in October, from September numbers.  The gain in the Labor Force participation of around 650 coincided with an increase in “total employed” by nearly 1,000 and a corresponding decrease in the unemployment from 5.1% to 4.8%.  Thus, we can say that both people previously “sitting it out” plus people registered as “unemployed” were pulled into the workforce.   This uptick in Employment is a trend-reversal from previous months and is cause for optimism that the final employment numbers of November combined with December, to arrive at the ending (4th ) quarter numbers for this year, are likely to be positive as well.  Good news for local economy here.

Local and regional net Job numbers ( “total nonfarm jobs”) over the past 12 months: Down  --  for the downstate metro areas.  How has Blm-Normal faired over the 12-month period of October 2015 to October 2016? :  net decreases in Bloomington and Decatur and Peoria over the past 12 months ending October.  These decreases were all similar in size. In percentage terms, they were small, but given the wages paid at Mitsubishi, significant.













But since 2008, measuring back 8 years, we see that Blm-Normal has been gaining jobs in Health-related (hospital) employment , that exceeded the gains in the other downstate metros of Champaign-Urbana, Peoria, Springfield, and Decatur . and also had a modest gain over those 8 years in Education-related employment.

Also, let’s keep in mind that from September 2015 to September 2016 downstate Illinois economy as a whole, showed a loss of 6,000 jobs according to one report, while Chicago gained jobs.  The single biggest category for those downstate job losses were in manufacturing.


NEW HOMES:  ‘Glass half-full’ news here:  “New Homes” (new home construction) is down slightly year-over-year through October --  153 new homes sold in January through October of last year, while in 2016 we were at 145 new homes by October.   New home construction came in at 29 Sept+Oct compared to 34 new homes in Sept-Oct of last year.  So we are sort of ‘waffling along’ on the new home construction, with fewer sold over the year, compared to the 2009 and 2010 when we had numbers of 200 to 250 new homes in the same time period, January through October.

However, the good news is that the average value of those new homes is up 8% in the fall, compared to last fall, and up 6% in average price thus far in the year, compared to last year through October.  So while total number of news homes sold has declined, they were able to be sold at a higher price, 6% higher on average over last year.

EXISTING HOMES --  This has been the stronger market in terms of numbers and holding onto prices, for Blm-Normal and it was reported last quarter, July-September,  that prices of existing homes held steady while total number of existing homes increased.  However, looking now at the accumulated January through October sales, “Existing Homes” quantity sold have decreased slightly , by 3% , over last year’s January through October totals, but average price held nearly equal with last year’s average price.  This fall, in September-October, on the sale of 440 Existing Homes, we had a drop in those prices by 6%.  This may have reflected effective mortgage rates creeping up or could be just a year-over-year anomaly. The main point is that for the year ending October, resale home prices have held steady in Blm-Normal.

Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.