Regional Conditions in the Central States                               

The Central states, with an employment base of 55.6 million, has the largest number of jobs of the three regions analyzed in our newsletters.  However, with an aggregate job growth of just 31,000 spread over nineteen states, the Central region has the lowest number of additional jobs and the slowest growth rate (1.1%). Texas, with a year-over-year job gain of 171,800 (1.5%) is the regional standout in absolute growth, but Tennessee posted a faster pace of job gains, 2.1% (versus the US average of 1.7%) on the addition of 60,900 positions. On the other side of the coin, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma saw employment contract in the past twelve months. Unemployment ranged from a low of 2.5% in Tennessee and 3.0% in Nebraska, to highs of 6.3%
in Louisiana and 6.4% in Illinois.

Although far from the oceans, the Central region has an extraordinary role in international trade. Texas has an annual import/export volume of $502 billion, with Michigan ($177 billion) and Illinois ($185 billion) in the top tier trade states as well.  Tennessee and Ohio also engage in more than $100 billion in global trade annually. While lower in volume, four states with agricultural and/or energy concentrations in their economies show surplus trade balances (more exports than imports) in an era where the country as a whole has long been in a deep trade deficit.
Texas, with its enormous total volume, has a very thin trade deficit of just $404 million. Globalization, then, has been a mixed blessing for the region – possibly costing a number of jobs, but generating employment as well in sectors ranging from agriculture and energy to transportation and wholesales, and in manufacturing sectors including precision instruments and transportation


TCN Economic Report - 2016_Q2_Central

Healthcare is reported to be a bright spot in the regional economy, as is professional and business services in and around Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Dallas. The energy slump has impacted several parts of the region, and accounts for the bulk ofthe economic contraction in states like Louisiana, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Residential construction is constrained by rising labor costs
and by tightening underwriting standards at bank lenders. Commercial development lending is also being carefully underwritten, limiting new development. This will have the likely effect of lengthening the real estate cycle, which has not seen the volume of construction that is typical in a late-stage business expansion.  Basel III capital requirements, the regulatory impacts of Dodd-Frank oversight, and the “lessons learned” by banks caught with billions of land and development loans in the Global Financial Crisis all contribute to the constrained credit environment.

READ ENTIRE REPORT–TCN Economic Report – 2016_Q2_Central


Economist Hugh F. Kelly, PhD, CRE, who leads TCN’s Real Estate Economic Committee, is a Clinical Professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate where he has taught for 30 years. Kelly specializes in development of economic and market forecasts, portfolio strategy, as well as seminars and workshops. He heads his own consulting practice, Hugh F. Kelly Real Estate Economics, which serves national and international real estate investment and services firms, governmental organizations, law firms, and not-for-profit agencies. Kelly is widely cited in the real estate industry and is well known for his research on 24-hour cities and commercial real estate investment performance.