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San Antonio Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators

March 19, 2020

Note: Most of the data in this release precede the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the U.S.

San Antonio’s economy saw steady growth in January. The San Antonio Business-Cycle Index decelerated but continued to expand above its long-term average. Although the unemployment rate ticked up slightly, job growth remained steady over the three months through January. Wages continued to climb, while home prices held at a high level. This data show that the economy was strong prior to the sharply negative hit in March from the coronavirus. While most data have yet to capture the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, recent data on the stock prices of San Antonio-based companies show sharp declines in February and March.

Business-Cycle Index

The San Antonio Business-Cycle Index—a broad measure of economic activity in the metro—expanded an annualized 4.7 percent in January, above the long-term average of 3.5 percent (Chart 1). The index was buoyed by solid job growth but dragged by a slight uptick in the unemployment rate.

Chart 1

Labor Market

Unemployment Rate Ticks Up Modestly

The metro unemployment rate ticked up to 3.1 percent in January, with the state jobless rate holding at 3.5 percent and the U.S rate declining to 3.5 percent in February (Chart 2). January labor force growth accelerated to an annualized 3.7 percent in San Antonio, compared with 1.9 percent in 2019.

Chart 2

Job Growth Steady Through January

Employment in San Antonio grew at an annualized 2.1 percent pace over the three months through January (Chart 3). Expansion during this period was mostly broad based across sectors, although mining continued to see steep job losses. Professional and business services also saw significant declines, driven by sharp losses in scientific and technical services (1,100 jobs). Conversely, growth was led by a surge in manufacturing (up 9.4 percent, or 1,200 jobs), construction (up 8.1 percent, or 1,100 jobs), and leisure and hospitality employment (up 7.6 percent, or 2,600 jobs).

Chart 3

Metro Wages Increase

The three-month average for private sector hourly wages in San Antonio rose to $24.83 in January (Chart 4). Year over year, metro wages rose 4.2 percent, far greater than the Texas and U.S. increases of 1.2 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Chart 4

Real Estate

The median home price in San Antonio edged down to $235,327 in January, while Texas’ median price remained nearly unchanged at $247,324 (Chart 5). Prices in San Antonio were up 2.1 percent year over year, compared with a 2.9 percent increase for Texas. Nevertheless, home inventories in San Antonio declined to 3.3 months’ supply, their lowest level since 2018.

Chart 5

Stock Prices

Stock prices of San Antonio-based companies have collapsed since the end of January, declining 46.4 percent through March 17, compared with a 23 percent decline in the S&P 500 over the same time frame (Chart 6). Declines were broad based but particularly acute in energy-related firms, with sharply weakening energy prices putting pressure on production and services firms. Food services and financial firms also saw notable declines over this period.

Chart 6

NOTE: Data may not match previously published numbers due to revisions.

About San Antonio Economic Indicators

Questions can be addressed to Judy Teng at San Antonio Economic Indicators is published every month on the Thursday after state and metro employment data are released.