Tuesday, March 19, 2013

HoCo Economic Snapshot / March 2013

It’s still good to be a farmer in HoCo. According to latest HoCo Economic Indicators report, “sequestration is expected to have little or no effect on local agriculture.”

I was also surprised to learn that 28% of our HoCo farms are run by women. The HoCo EDA is sponsoring a Central MD Women in Agriculture Forum at the fairgrounds this Thursday.

Farmers are one of the few groups in the loco business community that aren't chewing their fingernails these days. Overall HoCo businesses reported being cautious in spending and hiring, generally having “a lack of confidence about the future.”

“Owners are keeping tights rein on spending. Wages are not rising and efficiencies captured from technological gains will limit new hires.”

HoCo still has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.7%. The statewide average is 6.7%.

There are other bright spots too. Reported fees for Planning and Zoning are 126% higher for January 2013 than January 2012. The total fiscal year to date value of non residential construction is $63,288,495, a 257% increase over the same period last year. This level of activity is evidenced by new development projects in downtown Columbia, Turf Valley, Wilde Lake and Maple Lawn.

Retailers reported doing okay too with “moderate increases across the board.”

“Small appliances and hardware have improved but tend to item driven. One such example is the popularity of K-cup coffee products.”

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