Can’t really call it a happy anniversary. Five years ago this month is when the financial crisis started that sparked the Great Recession. Wall Street was faltering. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. AIG got an $85 billion federal reserve loan to stay afloat. Congress was debating TARP. The FDIC seized Washington Mutual. The mortgage meltdown was getting bad enough that the federal government nationalized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Business and economic news was on the front page a lot that month.
September is going to be an $8 million month for visitors’ spending.
Half of that is going to come from the triathlon at the end of September.
The Augusta Sports Council and the Convention and Visitors Bureau comes up with a visitor spending estimate every month. September is usually a big number because of the triathlon and Arts in the Heart of Augusta.
Things are getting better in the housing market, but compared to a lot of metro areas in the nation, Augusta seems to be lagging.
RealtyTrac, which usually distributes monthly foreclosure information, has devised a new Housing Market Recovery Index. It was calculated based on factors relating to the health of the real estate market: unemployment rate, underwater loans percentage, foreclosure activity, distressed sales, institutional investors, cash purchases and changes in the median home price.
If your business has to pay for unemployment insurance, then the state has data on it. Quarterly, the department of labor assesses the mix of business and industry in the metro area.
Those who work in machinery manufacturing are the highest paid in the metro area. The average weekly wage is $1,807. Chemical manufacturing isn’t too shabby at $1,448 a week.
A moment to put something into perspective.
Retail represents 11.8 percent of the employment in Augusta metro area.
A lot of excitement was generated about the coming of Cabela’s, Whole Foods and Bass Pro Shops. Those are hundreds of jobs coming to the area that weren’t here before, and, individually, they will matter to the people who get them.
In the big picture, though, when you add in all the jobs from the new announcements it moves the needle 0.2 percent.
It is earnings season, and company releases tend to have a mass of financial jargon. In my reading of some of them, there were a couple of sentences of clarity.
“Club Car revenues increased due to growth in the golf car and utility vehicle markets,” says Ingersoll Rand in its quarterly earnings report.
Though home sales fell nationally in June, they were up in Augusta.
Real estate agents sold 589 homes, the highest total for June since 2006.
We’ve been hearing other tales that signal the beginning of a housing recovery, such as multiple bids on homes and people paying closer to full asking price for desirable houses. The June results are just one more indicator.
When you add up the whole half year, agents have sold 2,804 homes in the area.
Every year, the economists at the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia release the economic impact of each university. So now we know the impact of Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities, now Georgia Regents University, on the economy last year was $1.8 billion. They were also responsible for 19,192 jobs.
This is up $780 million from 2011, when the two universities reported a combined impact of $1.02 billion.
We’ll get the consolidated university numbers next year.
An article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek suggests DSM is considering a move to get out of making caprolactam, which is done here in Augusta.
Bloomberg in November wrote about DSM looking for partners in the chemical sales business, but now is reporting through unnamed sources that the company is trying to sell off the production business, too.
Caprolactam? It is the building block of carpet and is also used in car parts. Royal DSM, which is based in Amsterdam, makes caprolactam in Holland, China and Augusta.
Three days after Father’s Day, I became a father for the fourth time. This time my wife and I had a daughter. She’s cute as a button and will be ruling her three brothers before we know it. So my two-week paternity leave is over, and I’m back in the business editor’s chair.
HONORABLE MENTION: Augusta’s Starbucks plant was an honorable mention in Site Selection magazine when it ranked the top economic development deals in North America.