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Job, sales growth boost San Antonio economy

by admin on June 1, 2012

Total employment and sales tax revenues this spring stood at record highs in the San Antonio metropolitan area, according to the latest quarterly economic report released Thursday by the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

“By all accounts, we’re doing pretty darn good,” said chamber President and CEO Richard Perez. “Consumer spending is on the uptick.”

The six-month average of total jobs in the San Antonio area through April stood at 858,800, said Travis Tullos, economist with Texas Perspectives Inc., which prepares the chamber’s quarterly economic updates.

The six-month average is a record high, Tullos said, meaning the area has surpassed the prerecession employment peak. The latest figure is 1.1 percent higher than the same point a year ago. At the same time in 2010, the six-month average of total jobs stood at 837,400.

The employment level reached the record despite a loss of 4,200 jobs in the government sector, nearly all of it in city and county government. Tullos said employment statistics do not break out specific public job categories, but he said he believes local governments are letting job numbers fall by not filling vacant positions.

“The private sector (hiring pace) is healthy,” Tullos said. The strongest hiring growth is in the natural resources/mining sector, up 14.5 percent in the six-month average because of rapidly increasing drilling activity in South Texas.

The six-month average for sales tax revenues is up a strong 10.6 percent through March at $23.5 million a month, a trend that exceeds the historical average, Tullos said.

“It should be noted that current Alamo regional dollar sales activity has been generated without hyper new construction activity, which helps boost spending for household goods,” Tullos said.

San Antonio’s commercial real estate sector is healthy, he said, even though office space demand is not growing as fast as employment. More companies are allowing their employees to work from home, Tullos said.

In Texas Perspectives’ cities index, which combines job growth, sales tax and real estate trends, San Antonio is second only to Houston among large Texas cities.

“Right now, energy is king,” Perez said, with Houston energy corporations seeing more activity because of their oil and gas drilling operations in the Eagle Ford Shale.

Energy industry incomes rise quickly when energy activities increase, Tullos said.

“Those folks spend their money when they are making it,” he said.

Perez and Tullos said the San Antonio-area economy would grow faster if business owners paid more attention to their own rising sales than to reports of the slower-growing national economy.

“We must use what is happening locally as our driver,” Perez said. “We must set an example for the rest of the nation.”

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