Analysis Roundup: October 22, 2012

Here’s a collection of data and information from the past couple weeks of interest to local budget and financial analysts:

NC Department of Transportation
FY 2013 Powell Bill Allocations Released

The first half of Powell Bill allocations for qualifying municipalities were distributed on September 30th. The remaining 50% will be distributed on or before December 31st.

According to the NCDOT report detailing the September 30th distribution, payouts to municipalities were 3.2% higher than last December. Total payouts were $71.4 million, reflecting a total FY 2013 allocation to cities and towns of $142.8 million, distributed in shares of $20.43 per capita and $1,610.94 per mile.

Bureau of Labor Statistics/NC Employment Security
North Carolina Added 29k Jobs in September, or Did We?

Last Friday saw the release of the latest employment and unemployment numbers for states. North Carolina’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate dropped slightly from 9.7% to 9.6%. The state “gained” 29,232 jobs (+0.7%) while the labor force grew by 25,656 (+0.6%).

According to BLS, North Carolina was one of 35 states that saw an increase in jobs, and among 41 with a decrease in the unemployment rate.

The Employment Security Commission provides an overview of distribution of nonfarm employment through their Current Employment Statistics. Comparing September to August, growth looks a lot more murky:

  • Seasonally-adjusted total growth is only 100 nonfarm jobs for September
  • Unadjusted numbers indicate total growth of 11,900 nonfarm jobs, though the private sector contracted by 18,700.
  • Goods producing jobs did increase by 1,900, signalling some help for manufacturing and contraction by more than 20,000 in the private service sector
  • Government jobs grew by 30,600, almost entirely facilitated by education services and the start of the school year

According to BLS, North Carolina has gained 50,839 total jobs since January 2009 (+1.2%), not keeping pace with labor growth of 88,387 (+2.7%).

With respect to nonfarm employment, North Carolina has lost 52,700 jobs since January 2009.

County-level data should be available on or by November 2nd.

NC Department of Transportation
Joint Legislative Committee Reviewing NCDOT Progress

The Metro Mayors Coalition shared several presentations last week from September and October meetings of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee. These presentations give us an idea of what NCDOT is work on with respect to several major initiatives:

2040 Plan

Consolidation of Division of Highways

Secondary Roads Program

NC Turnpike Authority Projects

The General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division also just completed an analysis of the North Carolina Railroad Company, recommending that the company’s “unique relationship” with the State as sole shareholder should facilitate payment of an annual dividend to the State, along with improving reporting requirements.

NC Department of Revenue
August 2012 Retail Taxable Sales Slightly Above Last Year

NCLGBA will start creating monthly reports of retail sales activity, analyzing monthly report distributed by the North Carolina Deparment of Revenue. For August, taxable sales were 0.7% higher than last August. Compared to July 2012, sales were 6.9% less, reflecting seasonal differences.

From the perspective of a 3-month rolling average, August 2012 sales were 3.1% higher than last year. Tax collections were down, reflecting the last month where the difference includes the presence of the 1% temporary sales tax increase that was in place through June 2011.

Click Here to Review Our Analysis

Wells Fargo/ABFM
Economist Vitner sees Continued Economic Slowdown

Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner did not express much optimism for improved economic growth through the end of 2012 and into next year, as he shared several concerns during his October 2012 Economic Outlook discussion.

Click Here to Access Video & Review Summary of Topics

Click Here for Wells Fargo’s Latest Economic & Financial Commentary

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
What’s going on with voluntary nonprofit PILOT’s

This study takes a look at recent activity with voluntary payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) by nonprofits to local governments. Here are the highlights with respect to their findings:

  • PILOTs have been received by at least 218 localities in at least 28 states since 2000; these payments are collectively worth more than $92 million per year. This is a much greater number of PILOTs than identified in previous studies, with the increase due to a more expansive methodology.
  • Although more than 90 percent of all PILOT revenue comes from “eds and meds”—college payments are far more important than hospital payments with colleges contributing about two-thirds of PILOT payments and hospitals another quarter.
  • Many other types of nonprofits also make PILOTs even if their contributions are generally small. This report identifies nonprofits that make PILOTs of these types: housing (47), religious organizations including churches (36), social services (15), and arts/culture (11).
  • The Northeast accounts for roughly 75 to 80 percent of PILOT activity, with the  largest share in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
  • Most nonprofits make fairly small PILOTs while most revenue generated comes from a small number of multi-million dollar PILOTs. As a result, the average PILOT for all nonprofits ($292,952) is nearly 10 times larger than the median ($30,000).
  • While at least 420 nonprofits make PILOTs, the majority of revenue comes from just 10 organizations: Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, Brown University, Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Dartmouth College, Brigham & Women’s Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton University (in order of payments, beginning with the highest).
  • PILOTs generate little revenue in most localities—accounting for less than 1 percent of total general revenue in 165 out of 181 localities that have information available.
  • Localities use a variety of methods to receive PILOTs; the most common are long-term contracts (used by 58 percent of localities) and routine annual payments (34 percent).
  • Most PILOTs go to cities and towns, but at least seven school districts and four counties also receive PILOTs.
Thanks to Tony McDowell (City of Asheville) for sharing this report.

Click Here to Access the Report

Cobalt Community Research/ABFM
Local Government Employee/Retiree Healthcare Coverage Struggling

“…The report shows 7% fewer local units of government provide health coverage to their active employees than in 2011.  Governments who do provide health coverage are paying a slightly smaller share of the premium.  Fewer local governments are self‐insuring…”

Click Here to Access Report & Summary Press Release

Articles of Interest

San Francisco Chronicle: Prudential Said to be Near Systemic-Risk Tag in US Review of Firm

Prudential, manager of North Carolina’s 401(k) program, is being reviewed by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, an arm of the Treasury Department established by Dodd-Frank. Due to its size in the overall financial market, the insurance and financial services company could be subject to greater federal oversight and restrictions on dividends and buybacks if deemed necessary by regulators following a final round of review and testing. Prudential did not receive any Federal bailout funds.

Charlotte Business Journal: Regulators: Duke Energy improperly sealed Progress merger records

Charlotte Business Journal: Charlotte wins $580 million from Feds for Light Rail Extension

WRAL: 2012 State Fair ends on a high note

WRAL: Amtrak through NC hits highest percentage of growth in the nation

Triangle Business Journal: NCDOT getting plenty of feedback on proposed rate increase




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