Commercial Building Permits Led To St. Tammany Parish Growth In 2014

MANDEVILLE, LA – The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation’s (STEDF) latest quarterly reports show annual economic growth rose in 2014 with a 2.5% improvement over the 2013 growth of 0.9%.

         Growth in 4Q14 increased from 4Q13 by 4.4% led by total sales and housing unit sales. Commercial building permits in 2014 saw the most growth from 2013, increasing by 10.4% for the year.

         Economic and parish growth trends include:

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• Total parish employment finished the year on a high note with a 3.2% increase in 4Q14 over 4Q13. Growth for the entire year rose 2.4% higher than total growth for 2013. Month-to-month, 2014 employment rates overtook 2013 numbers by a wide margin. The total labor force for the parish grew by 4.3% in 4Q14 from 4Q13.


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 • The parish unemployment rate increased from 4.2% in 4Q13 to 5.2% in 4Q14 as a result of the expansion in the unemployed segment of the labor force. The parish unemployment rate remained below the state unemployment rate and drew even with the national rate. Initial unemployment insurance claims decreased 6.2% from 4Q13 to 227 claims in 4Q14. Total claims for 2014 also decreased by 4.4% compared with the previous year.


• Residential building permits decreased in 4Q14 by 10.3% compared with 4Q13 permits. Single family permits in December 2014 were ahead of December 2013 by 21.7%, but October and November fell short by 23.9% and 19.4% respectively. Single family permits for all of 2014 rose 6.3% over 2013 permits.

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 • Commercial building permits fared better, as 4Q14 permits rose 29.4% higher than 4Q13 commercial permits. All three months in the quarter performed positively, with October rising 23.8%, November rising 15.0%, and December rising 44.4% above the corresponding months in 2013. Commercial building permits finished 2014 with a 10.4% gain over all of 2013.


• Sales of existing homes in the parish were 6.2% higher in 4Q14 than in 4Q13 and 6.1% higher in 2014 than 2013. Total sales volume for the quarter improved by 16.7% compared with 4Q13, with yearly sales improving 10.1%. The improvement in sales volume pushed the average sales price up 9.9% in 4Q14 over 4Q13. The number of months homes spent on the market fell from 6.1 months in 4Q13 to 5.8 months in a drop of 4.7%, and the average list price fell from $354,584 in 4Q13 to $345,626 in 4Q14.


• Permitted/ sold single family homes decreased by 10.2% in 4Q14 from 4Q13, but total figures for 2014 increased by 6.2% over 2013. Single family permits and housing sales in the first nine months bolstered the yearly totals. Average rent increased by 4.5% from 4Q13. Average rent is derived from surveyed apartment units located in 10 different complexes throughout the parish that meet housing needs (2 bedrooms, 1.5 or 2 baths) of professional or managerial households.


• Total sales/ sales tax collections were 6.7% higher in 4Q14 than in 4Q13. All three months in the quarter recorded positive growth over the corresponding months in 2013: October rose 9.0%, November rose 9.3%, and December rose 8.5%. The annual sales/sales tax growth increased by 4.3%. All months in 2014 recorded positive growth from the corresponding months in 2013 except January.


• DMV sales tax collections were 8.9% higher in 4Q14 than 4Q13. All three months in the quarter recorded positive growth over the corresponding months in 4Q13: October rose 22.2%, November rose 7.7%, and December rose 49.1%. DMV sales tax collections for 2014 grew 4.3% higher than for the previous year. At present, there is no method for separating sales tax on vehicles bought outside St. Tammany Parish and registered in the Parish.

         Data on vehicle sales tax revenue is taken from all vehicle sales by residents living in the parish and registered in the parish, whether the sale occurred inside or outside the parish. Total vehicle sales tax is calculated from sheriff’s office records of vehicles purchased, titled and licensed in the parish, including vehicles licensed and titled in St. Tammany though purchased elsewhere. Any computation of vehicle sales using vehicle sales tax data is likely to be overstated, as it would include sales occurring outside the parish.


• New corporation formations fell 1.4% from the 494 formations in 4Q13 to 487 formations in 4Q14. Year-to-date new corporation formations fell 2.8%, or by 63 incorporations. As stated in previous reports, consumers remained leery concerning future earnings and job growth. Consumers are keeping options open when it comes to family/household financial matters.


• Electric customer counts expanded at a steady rate of 1.2% in 4Q14 over 4Q13. No month in 2014 fluctuated more than 0.1% over the corresponding months in 2013. Primary electric counts for the parish were provided by CLECO and Washington/St. Tammany Electric Coop.


• Net occupancy tax collections (bed tax) in 4Q14 rose 23.2% higher than 4Q13 collections. October rose 22.2%, November rose 7.7%, and December rose 49.1% over the corresponding months in 2013. Bed tax gains for all of 2014 rose 8.0% higher than collections for all of 2013.


• The inflation rate in 4Q14 for the southern region of the United States fell from 1.7% in 3Q14 and 1.5% in 4Q13 to a rate of 0.9%, largely due to a drop in gasoline prices, which make up a large portion of the family budget. Whether the drop in fuel prices translated to lower prices for food and other goods could not be determined.


• In 4Q14, the economic expansion rose 4.4% above the 4Q13 rate, with increases in every component. Total sales at 9.4% and housing sales at 6.1% led quarter growth, with commercial building permits and employment both rising 3.2%. Single family building permits rose 1.3%.


• Economic expansion for the entire year of 2014 rose 2.5% higher than the 2013 annual growth of 0.9%. Housing sales led the 2014 annual expansion with 6.2% growth, followed by commercial building permits at 2.9%, employment at 2.7%, single family building permits at 1.3%, and total sales at 0.5%. The moving average of the sales component proved erratic but resumed an upward trend through the end of 2014.


         The STEDF “Economic Trends” report is compiled by John C. Borland, CCR, Director of Borland Econometrics and published quarterly by STEDF. The report is produced from information collected from various sectors and components of the St. Tammany Parish community.

         The STEDF “Parish Growth” report is also compiled by John C. Borland, CCR, Director of Borland Econometrics and published quarterly by STEDF. Sources include the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office; St. Tammany Parish Permit Office, Latter & Blum, Realtors through the Gulf South Real Estate information network, CLECO, Louisiana Department of Labor, and St. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission.



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