WHERE DID ALL OF THE WORKERS GO?
Where did all the workers go? Some people point to March 12th, 2020 as the date that American society recognized the then-unknown virus from China as potentially dangerous. On that date, the NCAA cancelled their annual “March Madness” tournament. This was effective in communicating the seriousness of the situation to the general public. In the following weeks and months, the global economy saw historic unemployment, government-mandated stay-at-home orders, and a level of financial panic not seen in over a decade. The labor market may never again return to its pre-Covid equilibrium, forcing society to adapt to the “New Economy”. According to the Saint Louis Federal Reserve (FRED), national seasonally-adjusted unemployment reached its cyclical peak in April at 14.8%.
As medical professionals began to put a plan into action, the world slowly adapted. With people falling back into a routine that resembled the American brand of consumerism, certain segments of the economy began reopening, and some even expanding. Unemployment has steadily fallen from its April peak to 6.3% in January 2021; still well above the February 2020 level of 3.5% (FRED). In the Institute for Supply Management’s January 2021 Manufacturing report, Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M notes:
“The January Manufacturing PMI® registered 58.7 percent, down 1.8 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 60.5 percent. This figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the eighth month in a row after contraction in March, April, and May.”
While unemployment rates have dropped, employers have been seeking additional workers. For reference, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that in January of 2020, seasonally-adjusted total non-farm, private payrolls expanded by 255,000 jobs. In November, 359,000 jobs went unfilled. December gave back a significant portion of November’s gain, but the three month average change remained positive at 239,000 jobs. Moving ahead to February of 2021, non-farm payrolls expanded by 379,000. Inflation fell to 6.2% the same period.
What does this mean?
The data indicated that employers are adding jobs at a faster rate than unemployment is decreasing. One hypothesis explaining this is that frictional unemployment will increase as an economy adapts to using new technology. Essentially, existing worker skills are mismatched with current employer needs. Workers with outdated skills may not be able to find comparable jobs and be forced to unemployment or less-specialized work. Another hypothesis is that low-skilled workers that have been temporarily unemployed have an incentive to stay unemployed, so long that the government extends benefits.
The aim of this article is not to challenge unemployment insurance or to suggest structural changes to the economy. It is to point out the state of the labor market in its current condition.
WHERE DID ALL OF THE WORKERS GO?
Breaking the Chain
As government-imposed shut-downs have helped accelerate the long-coming ecommerce boom, certain restrictions have made online shopping wait-times longer. These same restrictions have similarly affected business-to-business transactions, and the era of the global supply chain more generally.
The Cost of Restrictions
As consumers and businesses accelerate their purchasing to meet demand, the Port of Los Angeles is less equipped to handle the increase in volume. As of February 23rd, the Port of LA is seeing a year-over-year increase in import volume of 294.94% (The Signal – LA). Volume reached 169,602 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) the week of February 21st. It is expected to reach 174,500 TEUs by the week of March 7th.
California state and municipal restrictions on the amount of workers in a given area at any one time have increased the amount of time it takes for a ship to be unloaded, its contents delivered to a warehouse, and subsequently sorted and reorganized for further distribution. Ships are forced to anchor at harbor as crews wait their turn to unload; incurring further costs and lengthening delays. According to the same report, eighteen container vessels were at anchor, with an average time at anchor of 7.8 days. There are fifteen additional ships expected to anchor between February 23rd and 27th.
Many of the goods that come into the country on the west coast go on to various hubs around the nation for the next leg of distribution. Dallas/Fort Worth is one of these major hubs. The recent inclement weather in this area has further complicated supply chains and distribution flow. Last week, Union Pacific shut down all intermodal gates impacted by the weather (SupplyChainDive). BNSF issued a notification to customers indicating extended delays throughout Texas and the Gulf region. Power outages left more than four million residents and thousands of businesses in the dark; grinding one of America’s most important logistic centers to a halt.
The uncooperative weather was unfortunate, but is not a sustainable problem for the logistics industry. On the other side, the global supply chain is delicate even under the best conditions, let alone when government imposes labor restrictions. The fragility of supply chains is an issue for business owners and strategists to solve for decades to come.
INDUSTRIAL MARKET UPDATE: YEAR END 2020
2020 was a challenging year to say the least. COVID-19 had a significant impact on the economy, everyone’s daily lives, and of course the commercial real estate industry. Unemployment has still not recovered from the impact of the pandemic. It remains over 3% higher than the previous year on a national level. At year-end, unemployment was 6.7%. Minnesota’s unemployment rate at year-end 2020 was 4.4%, up from 3.3% at year-end 2019.
Industrial Absorption Remains Strong
The Industrial real estate market demonstrated surprising strength after a significant pause during Q2 and Q3 of 2020. Net absorption of available industrial space for Q4 totaled a robust 1.24 million square feet and 2.48 million square feet (Multi & Single Tenant) for the entire year. In comparison, total net absorption for Q4 2019 was 728,962 square feet and a robust 3.186 million square feet for all of 2019. This shows there is a decreasing supply of industrial real estate in the current market.
Industrial Category Stats
In both 2019 and 2020, Warehouse Distribution space (buildings with 24’ clear height or higher) outperformed Flex/R&D and Office Warehouse net absorption; totaling more than both other categories combined. Net absorption for Warehouse Distribution space totaled 1.973 million square feet in 2020 and 1.769 million square feet in 2019. Clearly Warehouse Distribution has been the best performing industrial product type. Overall, the industrial vacancy rate Year End for 2020 stood at 4.9%. Warehouse Distribution space stood at 4.5% and Office Warehouse vacancy rates were 0.2% lower than Warehouse Distribution space. When accounting for the 3.68 million square feet of new speculative development currently under construction, most of which is Warehouse Distribution space, this additional square footage has little impact on vacancy rates.
The weakest portion of the industrial market continues to be the Flex/R&D (Office Showroom) product. COVID-19 has exacerbated an already weak 2019 performance. YTD Net Absorption for Flex/R&D was a -182,645 square feet and has the highest vacancy rate at 9.5%.
Factors Driving Demand
Warehouse Distribution product will continue to perform better than any other segment of the market in 2021. Demand is driven by a number of variables that appear will only increase the need for more and higher quality high bay space going forward. Tenants are willing to pay new construction rates to benefit from operational efficiencies of new construction, particularly for in-fill locations in urban areas. The demand from 3PL (Third Party Logistics) companies and Last Mile Home delivery companies will increase. This will be a direct result of more consumer purchases online. In addition, investor demand to acquire this product type is stronger than ever. Investors are driven by strong property-level fundamentals, relative liquidity, and a broadening of their appetite due to the global yield environment.
While COVID-19 has negatively impacted the market, this high demand and low supply in the industrial real estate market has resulted in property sales and lease rates to increase over the last year. We expect this trend to continue into and throughout 2021.
Written By: Phil Simonet, Principal | Industrial Sales & Leasing
Q4 2020 Industrial Market Update
OFFICE MARKET UPDATE: YEAR END 2020
Most everyone will agree that 2020 was an exhausting year. Challenges brought on by the pandemic, social unrest and a polarized political environment kept the mood just below tolerable. Working from home and state mandates have left streets empty, restaurants closed and frustratingly vaccinations are just not happening as expected. Not surprisingly, state unemployment numbers rose. Reaching 3.9% up from 2.7% at year-end 2019 and business pushed decision making out to the future.
Q4 office leasing data does not bring too many surprises as overall absorption for the quarter came in at a negative 203,552 across all property types in all submarkets. The only winner appears to be the Northwest submarket. It experienced 4th quarter positive absorption of nearly 300,000 square feet. Overall vacancy rates have increased by over a full percentage point year over year. They came in at 13% for all properties and 17.2% in multi-tenant properties, nearly 2% over year end 2019.
What about Rental Rates?
While vacancies are up and the market still struggles, rental rates have not changed. Landlords are likely willing to incentivize new deals with free rent and larger allowances but for now aren’t moving off their quoted rental rates. Overall quoted rental rates are averaging $24.81 per square foot gross, slightly higher than 2019.
Total sales volume for Q3 surpassed 1.4 million square feet. Low interest rates continue to drive sales but inventory is low and investors have few options readily available. Working from home continues and the expectation is that employees will start returning to the office late in 2021. In the meantime, landlords are working to make their properties cleaner with bi-polar ionization and touchless doors/elevators/restrooms. Rearranging office layouts to meet 6’ social distancing recommendations is the primary tool being utilized and we all hope vaccination levels ramp up and the local economy starts humming again.
Written By: Nancy Powell, Vice President | Office Sales & Leasing
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK FOR CRE INVESTMENTS WITH DR. MARK DOTZOUR
We are proud to present this special TCN Worldwide webinar featuring Dr. Mark Dotzour. He is a frequent participant at TCN conferences and one of the truly ‘entertaining economists’ to provide an economic outlook and forecast for TCN members as well as their clients, prospects, friends, and family.
Join TCN Worldwide and Dr. Mark Dotzour as he discusses:
The outlook for job growth in the US.
Will the recovery be quick or prolonged?
What is the outlook for inflation in 2021 and beyond?
The outlook for borrowing rates
What is the outlook for cap rates?
What is the outlook for investor demand for US commercial real estate?
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER:
Dr. Mark G. Dotzour (CRE Economist)
Former Chief Economist and Director of Research at Texas A & M University
Dr. Mark G. Dotzour is a real estate economist who served for 18 years as Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University in College Station. He has given more than 1,450 presentations to more than 250,000 people. He has written over 90 articles for magazines and journals.
Dr. Dotzour makes complex economic issues easily understandable. Above all, Mark’s goal is to provide his audience with a “tool kit” of useful information that will help them make good business decisions. Ultimately, helping their families, their clients, and their company.
His research findings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Money Magazine and Business Week. Similarly, his clients include banks, private equity firms, real estate investment trusts, construction firms, engineering companies, wealth managers, private foundations, and commercial and residential brokerage firms. In addition, he has made presentations to local and national trade associations all over America.
Special thanks to TCN Worldwide for hosting this webinar.
Questions? Call Paramount Real Estate Corporation.
Q3 2020 INDUSTRIAL MARKET UPDATE
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for the Mpls-St Paul metropolitan statistical area (MSA) increased 500 basis points to 7.9% for August 2020 from 2.9% for August 2019. The unemployment rate for the US was 8.4% in August 2020 up from 3.7% last year. State of Minnesota unemployment rate was 7.4%. The Mpls-St Paul MSA saw a decrease in job growth. Also a decrease in industrial job growth in manufacturing dropping 11,200 during the same period.
The Mpls-St Paul industrial market consists of 261 msf in eight counties across the metro and posted over 682,000 sf of positive absorption for Q3 2020 while multi-tenant properties posted 152,000 sf positive absorption. The overall vacancy rate for the market stands at 4.9% and multi-tenant vacancy increased to 8.0% for Q3 2020. The average asking lease low rate was $5.97 and high rate was $9.57 NNN for Mpls-St Paul. To date, there are 19 construction projects throughout the market totaling 2.5 msf and 17 properties were delivered year-to-date with 2.1 msf.
At the close of Q3 2020, the market experienced over 2.5 msf of leasing activity in 180 transactions. ShopJimmy was the largest space leasing 413,000 sf in the Southeast market. The Southeast and Northeast markets vacancy rate being the tightest at 3.9% and 3.8% for all properties while the Southwest market topped at 6.6%. The Northeast market had two of the top five property spots in absorption with Target buying 399,000 sf and Tomas Commercial buying 140,000 sf property. The Northeast market experienced the largest vacancy of Modern Tool with 180,000 sf. Sixty three properties sold with over 2 msf for $124.8 million.
The Mpls-St Paul market consists of single and multi-tenant industrial buildings 20,000 sf or larger or part of a complex larger than 20,000 sf. The geographic area includes Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, Washington and Wright counties. The tracked set does not include selfstorage facilities and non-conforming property types such as grain elevators or fuel storage facilities. All tracked properties are existing. Statistically, net absorption will be calculated based on occupancy change during the current quarter. Asking lease rates are based on an average asking rate and noted on a NNN basis.
Reach out to one of our Industrial Agents with questions:
Fred Hedberg, CCIM, SIOR, Principal
Phil Simonet, Principal
John Young, CCIM, Vice President
Joseph Schultz, Associate
Jack Buttenhoff, Associate
View Full Report: Q3 2020 MNCAR Industrial Market Report
Source: Minnesota Association of Realtors (MNCAR)
Q3 2020: OFFICE MARKET UPDATE
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for the Mpls-St Paul metropolitan statistical area (MSA) increased 500 basis points. To 7.9% for August 2020 from 2.9% for August 2019. The unemployment rate for the US was 8.4% in August 2020 up from 3.7% last year. State of Minnesota unemployment rate was 7.4%. The Mpls-St Paul MSA saw a decrease in job growth. As well as a decrease in office job growth in professional, financial and information dropping 21,300 during the same period.
The Mpls-St Paul office market, consisting of over 128 msf of space in seven counties across the metro topping 95,000 sf negative absorption for Q3 2020. The vacancy rate for the market stands at 12.5% for all properties. Multi-tenant properties posted 16.4% vacancy with over 64,000 sf negative absorption. The average asking lease rate for Mpls-St Paul came in at $25.02 psf FSG. During Q3 2020 there were 9 construction projects throughout the market totaling just over 1.3 msf.
During the Q3 2020 the market experienced over 1.1 msf of leasing activity in 251 transactions. Class A properties vacancy rate dropped for all properties this quarter to 10.3% compared to 8.8%. It also dropped to 15% for multi-tenant properties compared to 12.7% Q2 2020. For multi-tenant properties the Northwest market posted the lowest vacancy rate at 10.6%, Mpls CBD vacancy was 18.7%, St Paul CBD was 18.4% and suburban markets was 14.6%. Southwest market posted the most positive absorption of 137,000 sf with The Nerdery leasing 60,000 sf and new delivery of Bridgewater Corp. The West market posted the largest negative absorption of 125,000 sf for all property types led by Dominium space available for lease with 53,000 sf.
The Mpls-St Paul market consists of single and multi-tenant office buildings 20,000 sf or larger or part of a complex larger than 20,000 sf. The geographic area includes Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties. The tracked set does not include medical or government properties. All tracked properties are existing. Statistically, net absorption will be calculated based on occupancy change during the current quarter. Asking lease rates are based on an average asking rate and noted on a FSG terms with Net type leases grossed up.
View Full Report: Q3 2020 MNCAR Office Market Report
Source: Minnesota Association of Realtors (MNCAR)
MID-YEAR 2020 INDUSTRIAL MARKET UPDATE
Net Absorption & Vacancy Rates
Statistically, Q2 2020 is showing the effects of COVID-19 on industrial leasing activity and the industrial market. Net absorption of vacant space during Q2 2020 was only 107,345 SF compared to 829,298 SF for Q2 2019. YTD net absorption for 2020 totals 330,369 SF compared to 1,587,669 SF in 2019.
The difference in the net absorption numbers (SF) between 2019 and 2020 is significant. However, the industrial market remains healthy as demonstrated by the overall industrial vacancy rate of 5.0% through the Q2 2019 and 4.8% through Q2 2020. More specifically, YTD industrial vacancy rates reflect the continued sound condition of the market by product type:
What is Influencing this Market Condition?
Two characteristics of the current market have significantly influenced the ongoing strong conditions of the industrial market: 1) Vacancy rates were at historical lows prior to the introduction of COVID-19 and, 2) Delivery of new industrial product to the market year-over-year has moderated. YTD Q2 2019 deliveries of new industrial product totaled 1,853,203 SF. While Q2 2020 new deliveries of industrial product totaled only 906,571 SF. The combination of less new development coming on line and limited negative absorption has enabled vacancy rates to remain low. Therefore, the overall market is in a state of good health.
Current expectations between landlords and tenants do seem to significantly differ. Tenants believe the industrial market has weakened and landlords are still very bullish on the market. A major reason for this difference in perception of the market has been the media’s reporting on the commercial real estate market. Retail and office space have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, so far in 2020. COVID-19 has had a very limited impact on new industrial lease terms and conditions, at least through Q2 2020. Limited net free rent, and tenant improvement packages, combined with strong net rates seems to be the story of the day for most industrial properties. The one exception to these healthy characteristics is office/flex/showroom product. Office/flex/showroom product still requires net free rent and significant improvement dollars generally to consume a new lease.
Hottest Industrial Market Segment
One of the brightest spots in the industrial market is User/Owner building sales. The limited supply of functional industrial properties currently available For Sale, combined with the low interest rate environment for debt, has pushed User/Owner building values to all time highs. Specifically, well-located properties receive multiple offers in many instances.
What is to Come
Finally, finding a vaccine that will make the current pandemic a thing of the past will remove much of the uncertainty existing today in the economy and the commercial/industrial real estate market. If the pandemic continues on into next year, the statistics and resulting story being told may be much different than it is today.
Written by: Phil Simonet, Principal
Is This 2008 All Over Again?
Industrial Building Values
Even in the best economies, owners are curious about the value of their building. In times of economic uncertainty, this question takes on even more significance. For many business owners, this recession may be forcing them to ask the tough questions related to building values. The short answer is that buildings are not worth what they were 60-days ago. Beyond that, future predictions require a well-informed analysis.
First, a bit of history. The 2008 Great Recession eliminated most of the demand for industrial space, both for lease and for sale; however, the supply of available buildings did not change significantly. This supply and demand imbalance created a significant drop in building sale prices that was at times up to 33%. Contrasted with today’s environment, the low supply of available buildings has pushed prices to unheard of levels. In fact, some high-quality owner-user buildings were selling for $100 per square foot or more, an all-time high in the Twin Cities. The current crisis will certainly reduce demand for buildings, which is already becoming obvious through terminated purchase agreements, fewer showings, fewer offers, and reduced offer prices.
Naturally, values must come down, but will they drop precipitously like they did in 2008? Probably not. And here are a few reasons why:
#1: Some industrial companies are thriving which will preserve some demand for industrial buildings
For example, clothing manufacturers are now making masks, plastic extruders are now making partitions for retail stores, medical manufactures are now making face shields, and the list goes on. This is different than 2008. During that crisis, it was hard to find any thriving industrial business that still wanted to buy real estate.
#2: Banks are still lending and interest rates for owner-users are exceptionally low
For example, the SBA 504 rate is currently 2% over the 5-year Treasury bill, which is under 1%. Bank interest rates are also 1-2% lower than before the crises. This lower cost of capital will help those who are thriving to borrow money for real estate.
#3: There is pent up demand
Many companies have been searching for the right building to buy for years. Because supply has been so low, these companies have lost out in multiple-offer situations and because many buildings traded immediately when hitting the public market. Many of these would-be buyers are still healthy and able to jump on the right opportunity when it appears.
So, back to the original question, what is the value of your industrial building today? Recent reductions in list prices and re-trading of existing deals indicates that values have declined by 10%-20%. A more accurate analysis is to look at values over time. Down 10%-20% today; however, if the drop-off in economic activity continues, values could continue to fall. A resurgence of Covid-19 could create the dreaded “W” recession, and another dip in economic activity and value. If the economy is opened for business soon and can get back to a more normal level of activity, values may stabilize and begin to rise as we all get back to work.
Stay tuned for more analysis as events unfold over the next few months.
Minnesota COVID-19 Resources for Businesses
Call John Young
Is This 2008 All Over Again?
Is this 2008 all over again? The answer is “maybe”, but “probably not”. Let’s go back in time. The 2008 Great Recession started with cash being drained from the monetary system. This was due to a massive failure of collateralized debt obligations held by the largest banks and over-building in the housing sector. This created a liquidity trap where Federal Reserve monetary policy was ineffective. Interest interest rates were already low and consumers were holding cash. There have been three notable liquidity traps in recent history: post-depression 1930’s America; Japan’s mid-1990’s recession; and most of the world after the 2008 great recession.
Although we have not had the customary two quarters of negative GDP, most economists are saying we are now in a recession. However, this one did not begin with the same cash drain as the 2008 crises, but is it creating the same liquidity trap? Not exactly.
This recession started with sharply reduced demand due to social distancing/quarantining and subsequent job losses. It did not start with cash being drained from the worldwide banking system. To date, almost 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment and, according to Goldman Sachs, the U.S could lose 37% of its GDP, the largest hit to GDP in history.
What is the main difference between 2008 and now? The $2.0 trillion fiscal stimulus bill is more than twice the size of the stimulus bill in 2009. It is focused on both businesses and consumers including a $1,200 direct payment for most Americans. In other words, there is far more fiscal stimulus pouring into the economy meant to save businesses and maintain some amount of consumer demand.
How bad will it get? Let’s think about a few important questions:
QUESTION #1: When will this current economic downturn end?
Answer: If the epidemiological models are correct, sometime in June or July we may get back to our near normal routines.
QUESTION #2: How much injury will be done to businesses and consumers?
Answer: It depends on how much cash businesses or consumers started with. If businesses and consumers have enough cash to pay rent, mortgages, and basic needs, then maybe there will be pent up demand and we can take off quickly. On the other hand, if working capital, credit cards, and other loans are already maxed out and cash is low, then a period of months (6-12 months????) may be necessary for the economy to come out of this recession.
QUESTION #3: Will the Fed, U.S. House and Senate be effective in combating this recession?
Answer: Yes, so far. They are bringing out the big guns with both fiscal stimulus and monetary policy.
QUESTION #4: Will there be an inflation hangover from all this borrowing?
Answer: Many economists are saying, “no”. Primarily because the U.S. is borrowing money at a negative real interest rate, and technology and innovation have kept inflation low since 2008, a trend that will probably continue. For example, we are all working from home now and most businesses will learn, just like 2008, that they can do more with fewer people and smaller real estate footprints. These factors, among others, should keep the inflation-making prices and wages mix under control.
One thing is certain, we all need to buckle up for a rough few months and cross our fingers that businesses and consumers are ready to spring into action very soon.
Minnesota COVID-19 Resources for Businesses