Coronavirus Tracker Update 4/25/20
Previous editions: April 18, April 11, April 5

Just a quick round up of news and data this week.

  • TEXAS HAS PEAKED; I WAS WRONG. In my original webinar on March 27, I said I thought Texas would peak around April 21st. If you believe the IHME model, which the government purports to do, Texas deaths peaked on April 19 and hospital usage peaked April 15. I will try to be more accurate next time.

  • HOUSTON CASES ARE STILL LOW. Finally there is some sort of dashboard. The graphic below is from the Texas Medical Center and shows as of 4/21/20, there were 268 coronavirus ICU patients, with 532 available ICU beds - and a surge capacity of an additional 1,200 beds. Again, no reference on the forecast source. The county is also removing the $17M field hospital at NRG that was never used. Harris County/Houston combined were at 76 new cases yesterday.
  • APRIL SALES STILL OFF ABOUT 20% OVER LAST YEAR. HAR is showing new home sales by 19.7%. Overall market sales might be higher or lower, but considering the economic devastation this month, off 20% is probably a very good number.
  • DISCOUNTS WERE HIGHER LAST APRIL. While we don't track every price change or discount, we do look at the spread between list and sales prices as a barometer for the market. Despite concerns in the market we are not seeing widespread discounting in reaction to the pandemic; in fact at nearly every price point except under $200,000, discounts were higher last year.
  • JOB LOSSES ACCELERATE. The Texas Workforce Commission is running about 2 weeks behind on its industry and local area job losses, so we have had to estimate local area job losses based on statewide totals and local shares (estimates shown in red). These data suggest that the Houston CBSA lost about 55,000 jobs - slightly below its pandemic average of 66,000 jobs per week. This yields a total of 385,000 jobs lost since March 1, and there were about 150,000 people unemployed in Houston already. As the industry breakout shows below, restaurants/hotels, retailers, and health care are the hardest industries hit.
  • CANCELLATIONS HIGH BUT SLOWING: HAR shows cancellations on new sales are still up dramatically; but in the first two weeks of April, they were up 200% - now they are up about 167%. This suggests the rate of growth in cancellations is slowing.
  • Why Don't We Store the Extra Oil in the Tanks of People's Cars and Trucks? OK. Even I missed on oil going to $0 last week. I had read some forecasts predicting that, but I had discounted them. But I will stay with the suggestion I made last week: oil and gas will recover when commerce recovers because the downward factors on pricing are unnatural and unsustainable.

Again, still doing webinars. The webinar covers the national and local economic situation and Location Strategy's current forecast for Houston, and I find I've been running about two weeks ahead of most media reports and government actions.

Stay well.

Scott Davis
Location Strategy, LLC