Good signs for local economy, still ‘a long way to go’

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 1:49 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - “Well you know what they say about economic forecasting? It makes weather forecasters look good.”

That’s how Dennis Jansen, the Director of the Texas A&M Private Enterprise Research Center (PERC) describes projecting our local economic future with any certainty. Especially now.

But he’s optimistic. He says the recent edition of the Texas A&M PERC’s Economic Indicators Report shows a steadying of new unemployment claims.

But that’s about all Jansen can say for certain, noting, “I think [new unemployment claims] might go lower but I’m not sure how much lower.”

There are some good signs in the report, however.

“Air travel at Easterwood is only 35-45% of last year’s level for the comparable months,” Jansen explains, “and that’s better than the national numbers.”

He says air travel is a good indicator of a return to normalcy for Texas A&M because it encompasses more than just tourism.

“Once we see an increase in travelers to Texas A&M to give seminars, to give speeches,” Jansen says, “and once we see an increase in A&M faculty and others traveling to other places, then those numbers will pick up some more.”

He says those coming to the area are a boon to the local economy because they’re purchasing food, lodging, and entertainment at local businesses.

But the most interesting data was also something that should be reassuring for local homeowners: property values are going up.

“Demand for housing is high,” Jansen explains, “many suggest that the move to work from home has lead homeowners to want more space.”

He says there are a higher number of permits for builders than in the past couple of years and that helps too. He tells us that despite the increase in homes, the average listing price in our area has actually gone up from $358,000 to $375,000.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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