WACO - Spending on cars, homes and big-ticket projects surged in January, giving the Greater Waco Economic Index the momentum to surpass numbers from December and January a year earlier, according to Amarillo-based economist Karr Ingham.
The index moved to 113.8 in January from 113.0 in December and 108.3 in January 2013, continuing a steady increase that has led it into record territory.
Sales tax receipts revealed that spending in January rose 8 percent from January a year ago. Vehicle sales hit $40.2 million in January — an increase of nearly 14 percent from January 2013.
Construction activity began the year on a positive note, with the value of building permits reaching $27 million, a 15.7 percent rise from January 2013. More than $7 million of the monthly building valuation came in the form of new single-family housing construction.
A total of 40 permits were issued to build homes, compared to only 11 a year earlier. That is the highest January since the strong homebuilding years of 2005 and 2006, when permits totaled 44 and 49, respectively.
Existing home sales were stronger for the month with the number of closed transactions up by nearly 23 percent compared to a year ago. There were 145 sales — which represents the second-highest total on record for the month of January, behind January 2008 when 152 sales were registered.
The average home sales price of $129,913 in January fell nearly 12 percent below the $147,337 from January 2013.