Economic Dashboard February 2018

How is the economy right now in Durango and La Plata County?

Find out the latest on our employment, home construction, tourism, and other key measures of our local economic performance. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and we can walk you through what the data means.

Local Economic Conditions

February 2018

Economic conditions in La Plata County from February 2014 to February 2018.

 

Summary
Improved (+) 11
No Change (o) 2
Declined (-) 6
Improved (Declined) 5
Current Last Month Last Year

Change

(vs Last Year)

Workforce
  Labor Force 31,411 31,426 30,804 +
  Unemployment Rate (%) 3.4 3.1 3.1
  Labor Force Participation (%) 56.1 56.2 55.6 o
  Job Openings 975 939 1,422
8
Construction & Housing
  New Permits (to Date) 33 19 15 +
  Value of Permits ($,000) (to Date) 10,836 3,673 5,034 +
  Home Sales 91 46 94
  Average Home Price ($) 467,440 436,731 501,010
  Earnings Needed* ($) 80,300 72,400 84,500 +
8
Travel & Tourism
  Enplanements 12,588 13,563 13,114
  Lodgers Tax ($) 34,185 61,413 31,496 +
  Train Visitors 1,856 2,691 1,817 +
8
Gas & Oil
  New Permits (to date) 35 33 2 +
  Production (mmcf) 21,203 22,941 22,331
8
Other
Sales Tax, Durango ($,000)** 1,142 1,793 1,057 +
Commercial Sales ($,000) (to date) 10,284 4,743 920 +
Foreclosures (to date) 10 6 11 +
  Energy Use
     Commercial (mwh) 53,890 55,708 48,940 +
     Commercial Accounts 6,401 6,396 6,359 o

Notes:

*”Earnings needed” is the household income necessary to purchase an average-priced home in La Plata County.

**Sales tax for Durango includes Use Tax.

Sources: Employment: Colorado Department of Labor and US Census Construction & Housing: City of Durango, La Plata County, Mortgage-X.com, and the Wells Group  Travel & Tourism: City of Durango, Durango Area Tourism Organization (DATO), and Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad   Gas & Oil: Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission  Other: City of Durango (Sales tax and business permits), La Plata County Treasurers Office (Foreclosures),  and LPEA (Energy Use) (LPEA data is unaudited)

Across the Divide 4/20/18: The Robots are Coming!

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Across the Divide

New ideas from around the world that could impact your business here in La Plata County!
Brought to you by your La Plata County Economic Development Alliance

April 20, 2018

The Robots are Coming!

 

 

 

 

 

And Sweden, for one, is happy to welcome their new mechanical overlords:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/business/the-robots-are-coming-and-sweden-is-fine.html

The article looks at different elements that might contribute to Sweden’s comfort with automation: a generous social welfare state, effective workforce training, strong unions, and a corporate/employee culture that embraces efficiency as a benefit for everyone.  “No one feels like they are taking jobs away,” says one union leader, “it’s about doing more with the people we’ve got.”

The article also points out that the United States is generally more pessimistic about automation: almost three-quarters of Americans are concerned about robots taking jobs done by people.

How much are we at risk of losing our job to Arnold Schwarzenegger?  The US Department of Labor runs a database called the Occupational Information Network, or O-NET.  One of the analyses O-NET provides is the degree of automation by each job occupation in the United States.  The more automated the job, the easier it is to be replaced by a machine.  The three occupations at highest risk to automation according to O-Net are farmworkers, claims examiners, and travel agents.  About 3% of jobs in the United States, or 3.6 million in total, appear to be “highly automated” and could be subject to machination.

Another important question is:  How much are we here in La Plata County at risk to automation?  Using the O-NET database and workforce data from the Office of Economic Development for Colorado (OEDIT), the Alliance took a look at jobs in La Plata County by automation level:

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Of the nearly 28,000 jobs in La Plata County tracked by OEDIT, about 70% of them are either “not automated” or “slightly automated”.  Moreover, the share of jobs in La Plata County that are “not automated” is 15% higher than the national average (1.15 on the righthand axis), while the share of jobs that are “highly automated” is 13% below the national average (.87 on the righthand axis).

Moreover, La Plata County has seen better job creation in the “not automated” or “slightly automated” categories since the end of the recession.  Since 2011, almost three-quarters of all new jobs have come in these two categories.  In contrast, there have been only 35 new jobs total in “highly automated” job categories. That is less than 1% of all new local jobs.

There are jobs at risk of automation in La Plata County.  However, we are less at risk of Terminators than the nation overall, and more of our local jobs are moving toward work that is hard for machines to replicate.  It doesn’t make us immune from automation, but suggests we have more time to see if Sweden’s optimism is warranted.

-Roger Zalneraitis, Executive Director

Hat tip to Stuart Jenkins at Senator Michael Bennett’s office for sending us the New York Times article!

If you come across an article on business, politics, or economics that can have an impact here in the Four Corners, send it over to info@yeslpc.com and we will give you a special thank you courtesy of the investors in the Economic Development Alliance!

It’s coming! The Economic Summit!

The Economic Development Alliance is pleased to announce the 12th Annual Economic Summit, to be held on October 24th at the Sky Ute Casino in beautiful Ignacio, Colorado.  For information on tickets or sponsorships, please contact the Alliance at info@yeslpc.com today!

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Across the Divide: Census Population Estimates for 2017

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Across the Divide

New ideas from around the world that could impact your business here in La Plata County!
Brought to you by your La Plata County Economic Development Alliance

April 6, 2018

The Census has released its population estimates for 2017.  For the first time since the recession ended, the population appears to be shifting back to the suburbs, small cities, and rural areas:

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/26/us-population-disperses-to-suburbs-exurbs-rural-areas-and-middle-of-the-country-metros/

The report found that large urban areas are still the fastest growing areas in the United States.  But small metro regions have seen their population growth increase for two years in a row.  And, for the first time since 2010, rural counties have seen positive population growth as well.

In contrast, La Plata County has seen steady population growth throughout the decade.  In fact, at 1.2% per year, La Plata County has been one of the fastest growing small towns in the United States.  However, from 2016 to 2017 population growth slowed dramatically, to about 0.6%.  That is the slowest growth we’ve seen since the recession.

Incidentally, the fastest growing micropolitan region in the United States is Bozeman, Montana (aka “the town Durango High School graduates move to when they want to leave Durango without leaving Durango”), a trend that has been consistent throughout the decade.

We are tempted to explain La Plata County’s slow population growth as part of the economic troubles facing the San Juan Basin, but there is another local oddity in the data.  According to the new Census estimates, the loss of population in Farmington, NM never happened.  The Census revised Farmington’s population upward by 12,000 people in 2016 alone.

After taking a closer look at the data, we’re not buying it.  The adjustment to Farmington’s population is an 11% increase.  The next largest adjustment in any county in the United States was just over 2%.  And three of the four counties near Farmington- McKinley (Gallup), Cibola (Grants), and Rio Arriba (Espanyola)- all saw downward revisions to their population estimates for 2016.

Is everyone in northern New Mexico suddenly moving to San Juan County?  Probably not.  But the population trends nationally seem to be shifting back to historical norms of modest rural growth, faster small city growth, and suburban expansion in our largest metro areas.  Whether La Plata County and the Four Corners benefits from this will likely depend on renewed job growth in our region.

-Roger Zalneraitis, Executive Director

Hat tip to Eben Harrell for alerting us to this Brookings report!

If you come across an article on business, politics, or economics that can have an impact here in the Four Corners, send it over to info@yeslpc.com and we will give you a special thank you courtesy of the investors in the Economic Development Alliance!

April 2018 Investor Meeting

Be the first to know about important local issues…Join Us for the April Investor Meeting
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
7:30 am – 9:00 am
La Plata County Fairgrounds
2500 Main Ave, Durango

Meeting documents are available by clicking on the links below:

Agenda
Balance Sheet
Statement of Operations
Quarterly Harvest Report

Thank You to our
April Coffee Sponsor! 

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We look forward to seeing you next week!
Thank You,
Roger Zalneraitis
Executive Director

Durango makes the list for Best Home Base Cities for Adventure Enthusiast

Durango received a unique shoutout in Livability’s recent article, “The Best Home Base Cities for Adventure Enthusiasts.” With the Gold Medal waters of the Animas River and 300-miles of wilderness trails close by, there are outdoor activities for everyone.

Economic Dashboard January 2018

How is the economy right now in Durango and La Plata County?

Find out the latest on our employment, home construction, tourism, and other key measures of our local economic performance. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and we can walk you through what the data means.

Local Economic Conditions

January 2018
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Economic conditions in La Plata County from January 2014 to January 2018.

 

Summary
Improved (+) 9
No Change (o) 4
Declined (-) 6
Improved (Declined) 3
Current Last Month Last Year

Change

(vs Last Year)

Workforce
  Labor Force 31,426 31,148 30,408 +
  Unemployment Rate (%) 3.2 2.6 2.5
  Labor Force Participation (%) 56.2 55.7 55.0 o
  Job Openings 939 941 1,478
8
Construction & Housing
  New Permits (to Date) 19 308 7 +
  Value of Permits ($,000) (to Date) 3,673 200,111 2,216 +
  Home Sales 46 873 47
  Average Home Price ($) 436,731 449,244 567,623
  Earnings Needed* ($) 72,400 73,700 95,500 +
8
Travel & Tourism
  Enplanements 13,563 14,448 13,161 +
  Lodgers Tax ($) 61,413 42,342 70,727
  Train Visitors 2,691 30,115 1,604 +
8
Gas & Oil
  New Permits (to date) 33 108 0 +
  Production (mmcf) 23,387 24,884 24,943
8
Other
Sales Tax, Durango ($,000)** 1,793 1,171 1,794 o
Commercial Sales ($,000) (to date) 4,743 35,142 920 +
Foreclosures (to date) 6 54 9 +
  Energy Use
     Commercial (mwh) 55,708 57,696 56,464 o
     Commercial Accounts 6,396 6,392 6,351 o

Notes:

*”Earnings needed” is the household income necessary to purchase an average-priced home in La Plata County.

**Sales tax for Durango includes Use Tax.

Sources: Employment: Colorado Department of Labor and US Census Construction & Housing: City of Durango, La Plata County, Mortgage-X.com, and the Wells Group  Travel & Tourism: City of Durango, Durango Area Tourism Organization (DATO), and Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad   Gas & Oil: Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission  Other: City of Durango (Sales tax and business permits), La Plata County Treasurers Office (Foreclosures),  and LPEA (Energy Use) (LPEA data is unaudited)

 

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 Across the Divide

New ideas from around the world that could impact your business here in La Plata County!

Brought to you by your La Plata County Economic Development Alliance

March 23, 2018

What would happen to your business if everyone living in Durango moved away?

The Herald reported that Katzin Music is closing its doors in Durango after 40 years of business:

https://durangoherald.com/articles/214436-katzin-music-studios-to-close-doors-at-end-of-month

Katzin got a portion of its business from New Mexico and Arizona.  And while the internet played a role in the fabled store’s closing, the economy in New Mexico probably contributed as well.

The Alliance has spent quite a bit of time over the years looking at the drivers of sales tax growth in Durango and La Plata County.  After some fruitful conversations with John Baxter, a former President of Nabisco foods, we were able to statistically identify three things that drive most of the sales tax in the City and the County: the population, the unemployment rate, and the number of tourists.

The only problem was, the model was overestimating the amount of sales tax that Durango and La Plata County should have received in 2015 and 2016.  What it turns out we were missing was Farmington and San Juan County, New Mexico.

Since 2010, the economy in San Juan County has been hammered by low natural gas prices.  Jobs have evaporated, and with those lost jobs people have left.  In fact, the County has lost close to 16,000 residents, roughly the same population as Durango, and has the unfortunate distinction of being the fastest shrinking city in the United States.

When we incorporated this population decline into the model, we solved the sales tax overestimate.  In fact, the regional population, the County unemployment rate, and the number of tourists explains 91% of the sales tax change in the City of Durango.

What would have happened if the San Juan County economy had just been flat?  The chart below shows what sales taxes would have looked like in Durango if the economy to our south hadn’t turned south:

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Sales taxes would have been at least $750,000 higher in Durango in 2016 if San Juan County, New Mexico had simply maintained its 2010 population.  That’s $25 million in sales for our local businesses.  For La Plata County, there would have been at least an additional $1 million in sales taxes as Farmington residents make purchases in other areas of the County too- like Purgatory and Vallecito.

So what does Farmington’s economy mean for Durango and La Plata County?  On the sales front, it means close to $2 million in sales taxes each year.  It might also mean the difference between venerable businesses like Katzin keeping their doors open, and closing.

-Roger Zalneraitis, Executive Director

If you come across an article on business, politics, or economics that can have an impact here in the Four Corners, send it over to info@yeslpc.com and we will give you a special thank you courtesy of the investors in the Economic Development Alliance!