WACO - Increases in spending in January led to a slight increase in the Greater Waco Economic Index (GWEI) as overall economic development activity in the area remained stable.
Inflation-adjusted spending for the Greater Waco region totaled $183.5 million in January, a 3.4 percent increase over January 2014 totals, according to a report by Amarillo-based economist Karr Ingham.
The GWEI rose to 117.4 in January, up from 117.2 in December 2014 and a 4.1 percent jump from 112.7 in January 2014.
“What I’m looking for month in and month out is ongoing improvement in two categories for the most part — that general spending number and payroll employment,” Ingham said. “If we’ve got growth in both of those things, then almost by definition you have an improving economy.”
The report lists January unemployment rate at 4.1, down from 5.3 in January 2014. But that figure is expected to change when official payroll and unemployment statistics are released by the Texas Workforce Commission in March.
Automobile sales increased slightly by 1.5 percent over January 2014, totaling $40.8 million this year.
The total value of building permits dropped 42 percent year-over-year to $15.6 million in January, down from $27.1 million in January 2014.
Projects like the construction of a Home2 Suites by Hilton at I-35 and Valley Mills Dr., a new Heitmiller Steakhouse in Legends Crossing, and an expansion at the Allergan vision pharmaceuticals plant are underway.