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El Paso Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators
October 25, 2018

Growth in El Paso remains broad based, with the metro area adding jobs at a 3.3 percent annualized rate in September. Home sales are at an all-time high, while home price appreciation is moderate. Trade through the port is above year-ago levels, while maquiladora employment remains steady.

Business-Cycle Index

The El Paso Business-Cycle Index advanced at a 3.5 percent annualized rate in September (Chart 1). The strong growth in the index seen in 2018 is attributed to the robust labor market.

Chart 1

Labor Market

Year to date, El Paso payrolls have expanded at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent and added over 5,700 jobs (Chart 2). Growth has been broad based with the majority of sectors adding jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities added about 1,600 jobs in 2018, more than any other sector. Manufacturing and information, which together account for 7 percent of total metro jobs, are the only sectors that have posted year-to-date losses. The jobless rate in El Paso inched up to 4.3 percent in September from 4.2 percent in August. The El Paso rate stands slightly above the state and U.S. unemployment rates of 3.8 and 3.7 percent, respectively.

Chart 2

Housing Market

Existing-home sales remain near an all-time high. In September, sales totaled 8,702, 13.5 percent above year-ago levels (Chart 3). Sales remain elevated, while home price appreciation is still modest. In September, the median home price stood at $155,096, up 1.1 percent from a year ago.

Chart 3

Trade

Annualized total trade in El Paso was nearly $83.7 billion in August, up 6.5 percent from $78.6 billion a year earlier (Chart 4). The year-over-year gain in total trade was driven by increases in both exports and imports. Exports totaled $31.8 billion in August, while imports amounted to $51.8 billion.

Chart 4

Industrial Production and Maquiladora Activity

U.S. industrial production continues to climb, up 5.1 percent year over year in September (Chart 5). The Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index stood at 59.8 in September, well above 50, which signals expansion. U.S. and Mexican production and manufacturing trends are important to the local economy because of cross-border manufacturing relationships.

Chart 5

Across the border from El Paso, Juárez manufacturing employment has slowed, likely linked to a tight labor market there. According to Mexico’s official series, Juárez maquiladora jobs totaled about 268,300 in July, down 2.5 percent from a year earlier.

U.S. auto and light-truck production was 11.3 million in September, above the 10.4 million units from a year earlier. Meanwhile, monthly auto sales rose to 17.1 million, but remained below the 17.8 million from a year earlier. Auto sales are closely linked to the local economy because roughly half of maquiladoras in Juárez are auto related.

NOTE: Data may not match previously published numbers due to revisions. The El Paso metropolitan statistical area includes El Paso and Hudspeth counties.

About El Paso Economic Indicators

Questions can be addressed to Marycruz De León at marycruz.deleon@dal.frb.org. El Paso Economic Indicators is released on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

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