EconSouth (First Quarter 2007)

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Volume 9, Number 1
First Quarter 2007


FEATURES

After the Boom, Housing Affordability a Growing Challenge

Florida Drives the National Auto Market

A Falling Dollar: Good or Bad News?

DEPARTMENTS

Fed @ Issue

Grassroots

State of the States

Q & A

Research Notes & News

Southeastern Economic Indicators

Staff

BackGround

  The State of the States

Recent events and trends from the six states of the Sixth Federal Reserve District

bullet image Lockheed Martin received a $619 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense's Missile Defense Agency to produce the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Weapon System. Lockheed has about 400 employees and subcontractors supporting this work in Huntsville.
bullet image A Center for Automotive Research study found that Alabama ranked 17th in the United States for automobile-related employment in 2006. The state's three automobile assembly plants employ nearly 10,000 workers. In addition, dozens of auto parts suppliers employed 15,965 in the state last year, according to the study.
bullet image ST Mobile Aerospace Engineering Inc., in Mobile, has a new $470 million contract with FedEx to convert 87 Boeing 757-200 commercial jets to cargo planes. The contract will create 200 new jobs there.

bullet image Consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said the economic impact of Super Bowl XLI could prove to be as high as $400 million dollars for the Miami area. The report estimated that 120,000 visitors would spend $195 million in south Florida, and Bowl-related purchases by companies would put the total near $400 million.
bullet image The Port of Jacksonville handled a record 8.7 million tons of cargo in 2006, a 3 percent increase over the previous year's record high and the sixth consecutive year of growth. Operating revenues grew by 13 percent over 2005.
bullet image An $8 million expansion at electronics components distributor New Advantage Corp. will include construction of a 70,000-square-foot office building and warehouse near the firm's St. Petersburg headquarters. In addition, the company will reportedly add nearly 200 new jobs, almost all of them in its headquarters.

bullet image Atlanta-based Beazer Homes reported losses of $59 million for the last quarter of 2006, compared with profits of $89.9 million a year earlier. Beazer's overall U.S. home closings for the quarter fell 31 percent year-over-year to 2,660, and new home orders were down 54 percent.
bullet image Approximately 3.6 million people visited the Georgia Aquarium during its first year, significantly boosting hotel bookings in downtown Atlanta. Aquarium officials now project that during its first five years the attraction will spur up to $1.5 billion in economic activity.
bullet image Shipments through the Port of Savannah grew 14 percent in 2006. The port's volume positions it as the second-largest container port on the East Coast, after New York. The port will expand further in 2007, adding 1,000 linear feet of dock, 100 acres of container storage, and 15 additional cranes.

bullet image The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that about 70 percent of the conventions and meetings previously scheduled for 2007 and more than 90 percent for 2008 have committed to holding their events in the city.
bullet image Offshore crude oil production off Louisiana's coast returned to pre-Katrina levels last fall, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While not all infrastructure repairs are complete, production levels from wells in the state's waters topped 6.5 million barrels a month, and oil from federal offshore lands topped 46 million barrels a month for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.
bullet image Housing permits have soared to an all-time high in Louisiana as the recovery process from 2005's hurricanes continues, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2006, 26,786 permits for new privately owned units were issued in the state, a 23 percent increase over 2005. Permits for single-family units increased by 13 percent in 2006, and multifamily permits more than doubled in the same period.

bullet image Casino employment on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has returned to pre-Katrina levels, according to a spokesman for the Mississippi Gaming Commission. More than 13,000 people now work at coastal casinos. The November opening of a new casino in Waveland, the Silver Slipper, could push the number past 14,000.
bullet image Vacuum cleaner producer Oreck Corp. will close its facility in Long Beach this year. The 10-year old plant, which at one time employed 450 people, has already closed some production lines. Production will move to the Oreck plant in Cookeville, Tenn.
bullet image Mississippi's total tax revenues for the 2006 calendar year grew by 12 percent compared with 2005. Sales tax revenue rose more than 13 percent, and gaming revenue returned to higher, historically normal levels, including a 56 percent increase in December 2006 over year-earlier levels.

bullet image Homax, a manufacturer of home improvement products, saw its Ashland City workforce swell from 12 in January 2006 to 110 a year later. The plant will double its payroll to 220 over the next four years, according to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
bullet image Total U.S. vehicle sales in January for Nissan North America, with headquarters in Nashville, grew to 82,644. The nearly 9 percent jump over the January 2006 figure of 75,891 units was largely related to a 45 percent increase in sales during the same period of the Altima model, produced at the company's plants in Canton, Miss., and Smyrna, Tenn.
bullet image Sara Lee Foods, the largest employer in Clay County, announced that it will close its West Point facility in March, laying off 1,200 people. That plant produced Bryan Foods meat products and FlavoTech spices. The layoffs are part of a restructuring plan that will eliminate 1,700 jobs.
This information was compiled by Sarah Dougherty, an economic analyst at the Atlanta Fed.
Illustrations by Jay Rogers