So where are we? Have we dodged yet another bullet as Congress and the president reached a tentative and temporary détente with respect to spending?
Certainly, we have seen that the country as a whole seems to enjoying some low level of recovery, but it’s still somewhat lackluster. National labor markets and output continue to be anemic if one looks behind the standard numbers.
But what of us? How is our neck of the woods performing?
In a couple of words – not bad.
Let’s begin with real estate. New building permits grew 66 percent between 2011 and 2012 after six years of declines. Given the growth in other real estate numbers, there’s no reason to believe this trend will cease.
Inflation-adjusted median home prices for La Plata County combined have stabilized at $300,000 after falling to lows in the mid-$250,000 range in the aftermath of housing bubble implosion.
In addition, there is a shrinking supply of rental housing – vacancy rates have dropped off dramatically, with commensurate increases in rents.
Foreclosures are falling, and only one foreclosure has been filed since March. Median prices of foreclosure properties and median market prices have converged, with foreclosed homes discounted only 3 percent in August.
Mining revenue trended down the past year or so stemming from falling gas and oil production and moderating prices, especially in natural gas.
In tourism, enplanements continue to grow, nearly doubling in the past 15 years or so. Visits to Mesa Verde are beginning to recover after a little hiatus in 2010-11. The train was resilient to the recession and has maintained its number of travelers.
Retail taxes took a big hit in 2012, but have rebounded to their trend and may eclipse $200 million, seasonally adjusted, by the end of the year.
In 2012, the most recent data available, annual average incomes in La Plata County were up about 3 percent compared with the previous year, after shrinking about 0.6 percent between 2010 and 2011.
Seasonally adjusted total income in La Plata has been in positive territory in nine out of the past 12 quarters.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is nearly 2 percentage points below the national average and has fallen 1 percent during the past year.
So, finally, I’m beginning to feel as if things might be turning around.
Then recent shenanigans start. First, we had the sequester, which passed despite being characterized as so horrific that no party would let them go through.
Two debt-ceiling debates ensued, and the 2011 debate sent markets into a tizzy. Markets this year barely batted an eye.
Cries of wolf are a bit of a yawn.
The government shutdown came next. And with the exception of a couple of investment firms selling off their debt, markets barely hiccupped. But costs to the real economy were substantial. The figure of $24 billion has been batted around.
So, my best guess is: As long as Washington plays nice, things are looking up. Oh, yeah, and then there’s the Affordable Care Act.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Robert “Tino” Sonora is an associate professor of economics at Fort Lewis College and the director of the Office of Business and Economic Research.