BOONE — The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce released its first Economic Indicators Report, a quarterly examination of five key statistics within the Watauga County and High Country economy, on Thursday, April 22. The report features a quarterly summary of local impacts by Dr. Harry Davis, North Carolina Banker’s Association Professor and long-standing regional economist.
Data was compiled for residential home sales, net sales tax calculations, unemployment, occupancy tax collections and applications for permits of new single-family homes. The figures include the most recent data released for each category as well as historical data to help establish trends and further context toward the area’s economic stability.
“We are often asked how the economy is doing in Boone,” said David Jackson, President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “Depending on what sector you examine, the answers may be very different, so we worked to create a way that easily summarizes key data points that can more accurately tell our economic story. We are fortunate to have Dr. Davis as a resource in our community that can give an even broader expert perspective. Dr. Davis provides such thorough analysis as he presents his High Country Economic Forecast. This report will give him a chance to chart that forecast throughout the year and offer more details about where we have been and where we are headed.”
The report was developed and data compiled with the assistance of the Watauga County Economic Development Commission, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, High Country Association of Realtors and the Chamber’s Business Development Committee.
The report noted 689 residential home sales in the High Country in 2021, an increase from the 534 homes sold in the first quarter of 2020. In the first quarter of 2020, 60 new, single-family home applications were received, up from 24 in the first quarter of 2020.
“The real estate sector in the High Country is booming,” Davis said in his report. “Home sales set a record last year and the numbers are even better in the first quarter of this year. Demand has clearly exceeded supply leading to a large increase in permit applications. Even so, the inventory of unsold homes is at a record low level of about two-months supply.”
Net sales tax collections in February 2021 was $2,196,215.66, up from $1,855,588.40 in February 2020. Occupancy tax collections in January and February 2021 increased by 74.64 percent compared to the same time frame a year prior.
Not all of the numbers were a positive increase. Unemployment was at 4.3 percent in Watauga, 5.7 percent in North Carolina and 6.2 percent in across the country in February, according to the report, increases across the board from a year prior. Watauga’s increase from 3.2 percent was the smallest bump, while the 2.7 percent increase nationally was the largest.
Future reports will be released quarterly once all relevant data has been reported by state and local agencies.