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Economic Indicators

"Economic Indicators of the College Station-Bryan MSA" and the College Station-Bryan Business-Cycle Index contained within are products of the Texas A&M Private Enterprise Research Center in conjunction with the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation. Previous editions are linked at the bottom of this page.
 
Founded in 1977 through the generosity of former students, corporations and foundations, PERC pursues a dual mission of supporting academic research at Texas A&M University and developing market-oriented solutions to public policy problems.
 


Economic Indicators of the
College Station-Bryan MSA
April 2019 Edition

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Business Cycle Index measured one point lower than the revised January 2019 value, a -4.7% annualized rate of decline.
  • Nonfarm employment for January was revised downward by 0.1% from the value released last month, and the February value was 0.5% lower than the revised January number.
  • The unemployment rate in February 2019 remained at 3.1%, the same rate as in January.
  • Real taxable sales increased by 1.5% in February 2019, and are up 9.4% relative to February of 2018.
  • The focus this month is on property and sales taxes. Average property taxes per person in College Station-Bryan are similar to the state average.
  • Local property taxes and around the state have been growing faster, and state sales taxes slower, than the sum of inflation plus population growth.

 

THE COLLEGE STATION-BRYAN BUSINESS-CYCLE INDEX

Figure 1 depicts the College Station-Bryan (CSB) Business-Cycle Index. The February 2019 estimate of the CSB Business-Cycle Index is 221, one point lower than the revised January 2019 value.
 
 
 

THE COLLEGE STATION-BRYAN BUSINESS-CYCLE

The CSB Business-Cycle Index declined by 0.4% in February, an annualized rate of -4.7%. This continued decline in the business-cycle index is mainly driven by the recent upward movements in the unemployment rate as well as the decrease in nonfarm employment.
 
 
 

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

The February unemployment rate in CSB remained at 3.1%. As has been the case for many years, the current rate in CSB remains lower than the rate for Texas and for the U.S. The rate in Texas stayed at 3.8% in February, while the national rate declined to 3.8% from its January rate of 4%.
 
 
 

FOCUS ON THE COLLEGE STATION-BRYAN MSA

In this issue of Economic Indicators we discuss one of the four series used in the model that produces the monthly index. The local focus is on per person property taxes in the CSB MSA, in several MSAs in the “Texas triangle”, and across the state. We also compare per person property taxes to per person sales taxes for all Texans.
 
Texas is one of seven states without a state income tax. Texas state and local governments rely heavily on sales taxes and property taxes to fund services. Texas has one of the lowest tax burdens as a share of income.
 

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: THE MOVING AVERAGE

The unemployment rate is shown in Figure 4 below, along with the moving average of the unemployment rate. This moving average is an input into our model of the business cycle index. This graph shows the period from January 2015 to the present. The moving average is calculated using a 5-month weighted average, including two past values, two future values, and the current value of the unemployment rate.1 The moving average smooths out sudden movements in the unemployment rate and is intended to better capture the important systematic movements in the unemployment rate as opposed to sharp one-month movements. The effects of this smoothing shows up in the most recent data points — in the last months of 2018, our smoothed series was above the reported values, and then between January and February 2019 our smoothed series is below the reported values. The smoothed unemployment rate is an important component of the overall model and its movements continue to affect the recent slowdown in the local business-cycle index.
 
 
 

PROPERTY TAXES

Figure 5 presents data on inflation-adjusted per person property tax levies in major metropolitan areas and for the entire state. The data include total levies within an MSA for property taxes going to cities, to counties, and to school districts. The data also include state-wide levies for these purposes. (Property taxes to special districts, such as utility districts, are not included in this analysis.) The tax levy data is from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Property taxes in College Station-Bryan averaged $1,865 per person, about the same as the state average of $1,860. Clearly school districts are the largest single recipient of property tax dollars. While county taxes per capita in College Station-Bryan are higher than the state average, local residents face lower school district and city taxes.
 
 

 

 

 

PROPERTY AND SALES TAXES

Figure 6 depicts the total real per person property tax levies from 2013 to 2017. The rising lines indicate that property tax levies have been rising faster than inflation plus population growth. We also show the average per person real sales taxes in Texas. While property taxes per person have increased in real terms over the period, we see that sales tax remained relatively flat, with a slight increase from 2013 to 2015, and a noticeable decrease from 2015 to 2017. Sales taxes have recently been rising slower than inflation plus population growth.
 
 
 

NOTES AND LINKS

The extent of the College Station-Bryan MSA is defined by the Census Bureau and includes Brazos, Burleson, and Robertson counties. The Business-Cycle Index is re-estimated each month using the most recent data for the four economic variables included in the model: the unemployment rate, nonfarm employment, real wages, and real taxable sales. The real wage series is released on a quarterly basis and the other three are released monthly. The underlying data series are subject to revision. With new monthly data and revisions of past data, each month the Index and the Business-Cycle will differ from previous estimates.
 
For more details about the CSB Business-Cycle Index see: Methodology for Constructing an Economic Index for the College Station-Bryan Metropolitan Statistical Area.
 

END NOTES

1 At the end of the sample, the moving average uses anticipated rates as well as past rates, and changes as data are revised and as new data become available.
 

DATA SOURCES

Inflation
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items [CPIAUCSL], re­trieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIAUCSL. Wages and Taxable Sales are converted to real dollars (inflation-adjusted) using the CPI-U.
 
Nonfarm Employment
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas Workforce Commission, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, Total Non­farm Payroll Employment for College Station-Bryan, TX (MSA), two-step Seasonally Adjusted, retrieved from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, https://www.dallasfed.org/research/econdata/brysa.aspx
 
Property Tax Levies
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Assistance, Tax Rates and Levies. School District, City and County Levies 2013-2017; https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/rates/
 
Population Estimates
United States Census Bureau. 2017 American Community Survey 1-year Estimates using American FactFind­er; Table ID: B01003; http://factfinder.census.gov; (accessed on 3/18/2019).
 
Taxable Sales (Sales and Use Tax Allocation)
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Allocation Payment Detail, Current Period Collections. Data available through Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts: https://mycpa.cpa.state.tx.us/allocation/AllocDetail for years 2016 to 2018. Historical data prior to 2016 from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.Seasonal Adjustment by Private Enterprise Research Center.
 
Sales Tax
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Transparency, Reports, Revenue by Source 1978-2018; https://comp­troller.texas.gov/transparency/reports/revenue-by-source/
 
Unemployment Rate
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment by Metropolitan Area, Seasonally Adjusted, Local Area Unem­ployment Statistics, retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/lau/metrossa.htm
 
Wages
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Total Quarterly Wages in College Station-Bryan, TX (MSA), retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/cew/datatoc.htm. Quarterly files by area. Seasonal Adjustment by Private Enterprise Research Center.
 

 

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