The city of Sherman lost a handful of jobs in 2013, but much of the other information in an economic report issued Tuesday by the Sherman Economic Development Corp. painted a rosier picture for the coming year. Notably, home building numbers increased substantially in January, indicating that the local economy could be poised for recovery.

The city of Sherman lost a handful of jobs in 2013, but much of the other information in an economic report issued Tuesday by the Sherman Economic Development Corp. painted a rosier picture for the coming year. Notably, home building numbers increased substantially in January, indicating that the local economy could be poised for recovery.


Permits for new home construction are tracking ahead of last year’s applications, as 11 new single-family units are planned so far in the city for 2014. The Jan. 2013 brought only four such applications. The average value of the constructed homes moved lower, however, from $270,000 to $134,455. Commercial permits appear steady, with 11 projects submitted in January compared to 14 last year, the average value of which edged higher to $93,429 from $75,241. City permits for housing remodels are also up 44 percent.


"It’s interesting, we’re seeing some housing built," said SEDCO President Scott Connell. "I think we’re slowly catching back up to where we need to be."


The uptick in home building should have positive ripples across the local economy, according to experts. If the January trend holds, it could aid the rebound in the wake of the Great Recession.


"In terms of implications, obviously rising home construction is going to have a positive impact on employment in the area," said Micheal Neal, a senior economist with the National Association of Home Builders. "That impact is going to be both direct, with the hiring of construction employees, but you’re also going to get the indirect — additional construction employees are going to need to eat lunch. So in order to meet that demand, then the organizations that provide lunch should hire more people."


Neal provided data which estimate that the construction of 10 homes in a community can inject as much as $2.1 million into the economy and create more than 30 jobs.


"We see an increase in incomes … in the wages paid by that employer. And the implication is that the local tax receipts should increase, as well. More tax revenue should come into the locale," explained Neal


Sherman sales tax receipts jumped substantially in the first month of 2014, from $1.16 million to $1.48 million, a leap of 28 percent. SEDCO will get a cut of that sum totaling $277,812 to fund its economic development initiatives. The growth easily outpaced McKinney to the south, which saw receipts increase 11.3 percent to $2.66 million. Denison, meanwhile, took in 28 percent less than the previous January with $350,293 in sales taxes. Connell said the city hopes the higher numbers stick, but is proceeding cautiously.


"There is some question whether the increase in sales taxes is attributed to the construction employees that have come to the area to build the Panda power plant; the level of employment out there reached 600 people," said Connell. "That is now being drawn down, and we are watching to see how it impacts the retail sales numbers, if at all."


Elsewhere in the report, local jobs numbers were soft, although they mirrored a larger, national picture. The labor force — defined as those with a job plus those who are actively looking for one — shrank both in Sherman as well as across the country. The local labor force contracted by 1.2 percent, a change possibly caused by unemployed people who have stopped looking for work, changing city demographics or declining population. Population decrease appears unlikely, however, as the city’s water tap count increased from 12,984 to 13,132 year-over-year. The city’s unemployment rate decreased from 6.6 to 5.7 percent, with 1,011 said to be currently seeking employment. Connell said it’s too early in the year to put too much stock in slow job growth.


"We’re holding steady in our workforce; we’d like to see more people in the workforce, but it’s still early in the year and I think that’ll focus as the year goes forward," said Connell.


Grayson County as a whole also lost jobs in 2013 — 159 of them, to be precise — and saw percentage drops similar to Sherman in both unemployment rate and labor force. SEDCO-provided data show the greatest area job gains were made in hospitality, construction and professional services, while the greatest losses were seen in manufacturing and education and health services. Home building numbers for the county as a whole were not available.