ABILENE - The Abilene economy was a growth economy in 2014 with the Abilene Economic Index (AEI) posting steady improvement throughout the year, according to Karr Ingham who produces the AEI.
The AEI improved for 10 of the 12 months of the year, and the monthly declines in those two months were very slight.
The Abilene Economic Index finished the year on a high note, rising to 122.1 in December up from 121.7 in November, and up 3.5 percent from the December 2013 AEI of 118.0.
It was also in 2014 that the index finally surpassed its prerecession high of 118.4 (May 2007), reaching 118.5 in February 2014 and expanding into record territory for the balance of the year.
The construction sector enjoyed its best year since 2007 with over $170 million in permit valuations, an increase of 45 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) terms compared to the 2013 annual total.
While the hailstorm in June 2014 certainly added some permit activity, over 88 percent of the valuation total was for new construction, including $56.6 million for new single-family homes, $80.4 million for new commercial construction, and $13.3 million for schools and churches.
New single-family housing construction was down just slightly compared to a strong total in 2014, and in fact the city has enjoyed three straight years of improved home building activity in which 790 permits were issued.
The 274 permits issued in 2014 comprise roughly a third of all construction in the city in 2014 in terms of the value of that construction.
The Abilene residential real estate market is the shining star of the Abilene economy with more homes sold in 2014 than in any year since 2007 at prices that are sharply higher compared to year-ago levels.
The 2014 annual average sale price of over $152,000 was up a solid 6.5 percent compared to the 2013 annual average, and the fourth quarter 2014 average was up a sharp 12.5 percent compared to the fourth quarter of a year ago.
The $280.7 million in total sales in 2014 is a new annual record, surpassing the prior record achieved in 2007 in which sales were higher than in 2014 but prices were, of course, much lower.