WACO - Homebuilders and real estate agents saw a slow month in January, and the Greater Waco Economic Index responded by slumping for the second consecutive month.
However, some features of the index, such as auto sales and hotel tax revenue, continued to perform well.
The index uses data dating back to the year 2000 to prepare a monthly score, which reached 121.4 in January, down from 121.5 in December.
On the positive side, the index eclipsed the 117 of January 2015, and the index increased in every month but December last year.
Homebuilding in Waco slowed for the month. The City of Waco issued only 14 permits to build single-family homes, which is considerably fewer than the 40 secured during January 2015.
Scott Bland, president of the Heart of Texas Builders Association, said the slow start should not necessarily cause alarm.
"The 40 number is atypical for January. The 14 is typical," he said.
Meanwhile, the number of existing homes sold in January dipped to 132, compared to 144 in January of last year.
That is a deviation from the trend that dominated the sales landscape for nearly all of 2015, when home sales were brisk, even record-setting.
The average home sales price in January advanced to $168,983, up 7.5 percent from $157,260 in the same month last year.
Permits for general construction projects hit $36 million in January, the highest for the month since January of 2009.
The index estimated employment figures for January, as the Texas Workforce Commission will not release results until March 4.
The index estimated that January employment in the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area, would reach 113,200, 0.7 percent from 112,400 a year earlier.
It was also estimated that the January unemployment rate would dip to 4.3 percent, down from 4.5 percent in January 2015.
"Even though the Greater Waco Economic Index has posted two slight monthly declines, the general economy of the greater Waco area continues to function at a high aggregate level following several years of solid post-recession economic expansion," said economist Karr Ingham, the developer of the report.
"I know there was a small decrease, but it was marginal and I don't believe it has long-term significance," Whitney Richter of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce said.