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September 2012

    September 2012

 National Economic Outlook

 by Ingo Winzer

   Let's do the jobs math. In August, as in the preceding months, the number of jobs was 1.4 percent higher than last year. We're probably stuck at this growth rate which translates to 1.8 million new jobs per year.  Unemployment is at 8 percent but it rarely gets below 5 percent, so the "excess" unemployment is about 4 million. At 1.8 million per year it would take just a couple of years to put those 4 million back to work, but new people enter the workforce every day so it will probably take twice as long.
   What will accelerate the recovery is construction, which has been below replacement levels as we coped with an excess 4 million homes built during the boom. We've almost absorbed that excess and there will soon be unmet demand in many local markets; home prices have bottomed out in half of the 315 markets we cover. Other construction will also increase as state and local governments spend on delayed infrastructure projects.
   Low interest rates -- which contributed mightily to the housing bust and financial crisis -- can't create demand for housing (or for any kind of consumer spending, it's a bad policy in that regard) but they will facilitate the recovery in construction, both through low mortgage rates and low government bond financing.
   The upshot will be a boost to the general economy just when it needs it. We don't want back all the three million construction-related jobs lost in the recession -- that would put us back in another unsustainable boom -- but a million new construction jobs over the next few years is a strong possibility.
   Summing up the numbers: Jobs in August were up 1.4 percent from last year and unemployment eased down to 8.1 percent. Jobs were up 1.7 percent in manufacturing, up 2.1 percent in healthcare, up 2.5 percent at hotels and restaurants, and up 3.2 percent in business services. Retail jobs were up a sluggish half-percent and government jobs were down almost 1 percent. Retail sales through July were up 6 percent over last year, including a 9 percent increase for cars and for furniture, an 8 percent increase at bars and restaurants, and a 12 percent increase in on-line sales.


   Mr. Winzer is President of Local Market Monitor, and has analyzed real estate markets for more than 20 years. His views on real estate markets are often quoted in the national press and in 2005, he warned that many housing markets were dangerously over-priced. Previously, Winzer was a founder and Executive Vice President of First Research, an industry research company that was acquired by Dun and Bradstreet in March 2007. He is a graduate of MIT and holds an MBA in Finance from Boston University.  He resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
   Local Market Monitor issues these outlooks monthly for its subscribers.  Readers of this newsletter are eligible for a discount on LMM subscriptions that range from a single report on one market to reports on all 300+ markets that LMM covers.  For a sample report, please register at GolfHomesListed.com and indicate the market in which you are interested (20 available).  For discount information, contact LMM editor Carolyn Beggs at LocalMarketMonitor.com and mention “Home On The Course.”



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Seeing Red:  Yes, most of the South is seriously conservative, but some golf communities sing the blue

    At a July 4th block party in front of our condominium in Pawleys Plantation in 2008, I got into a heated political discussion with a neighbor about the U.S. Presidential campaign.  We were like the popular notion of two Greeks at an Athens café, stammering about the stupidity of the other’s position.  Thankfully, like two such combative Greeks, we did not stop talking to each other the rest of the summer and after the election.
    That dustup, though, got me thinking that, for some of us who want our retirements to be free of hard-edged discourse and rancor, we might want to factor political considerations into our search for a golf community home in the southern U.S.  On the face of it, southern states are mostly “red,” although North Carolina and Virginia went purple in 2008.  It stands to reason, therefore, that most of the golf communities in the South would be located in counties that are red (conservative).  A progressive Democrat couple from, say, New York City who choose a golf community in a deeply red county could be in for painful election cycles during their retirement.  A conservative couple from, say, outside Dallas, TX, will doubtless feel more comfortable.


Oases of blue in sea of red
    To test my notion that the South sees red, I took a look at results by county for the 2008 election, and I was surprised to find that, even in a deeply red state like South Carolina, a few counties with golf communities we have visited voted for the Obama/Biden ticket, although most, as expected, opted for McCain/Palin.  In Richland County, for example, voters went almost 2 to 1 for the Democrat ticket. (Richland is home to state capital Columbia and the University of South Carolina’s main campus, as well as a few golf communities we have visited.)  Another surprise:  Most of the counties we looked at were decidedly purple; that is, neither party won with more than 55% of the vote.
    As a service to those who will consider the political leanings of their neighbors as one criterion in the search for a golf community home, we offer our barely scientific assessment of where golf communities we like rank along the spectrum from progressive to conservative, based on 2008 county-by-county election results.  Note that attitudes shift, sometimes en masse, and that some voting district boundaries have been realigned since the 2008 election.


"Some of my best friends are..."

   We understand that the political persuasion inside the gates of a community may not exactly reflect the attitudes of those living outside the gates, but in discussions with residents at a few communities on our list, we found mostly correlation.  For example, Henderson County in North Carolina went for McCain/Palin by more than 2 to 1 in 2008.  
   “I polled a few of my pals,” says Mike Tower, a resident of Champion Hills in county seat Hendersonville, and a columnist for the local newspaper, “and they think our community is 70/30 for the Republicans. I must say, though, that I have never heard a single negative exchange because of political beliefs.
   “It's more like ‘some of my best friends are....’"
   Interestingly, when Mike checked with the Hendersonville director of voter registrations, the breakdown of registrations was 40% Republican, 24% Democrat and 35% unaffiliated.
    Obviously, if you are looking for a golf home, your criteria will include factors other than politics.  I can help you identify those communities that most closely match all your requirements.  Please contact me to discuss which those might be.


All Politics Local
   In the following list, towns and selected golf communities in the local area are displayed by how their counties voted in the 2008 Presidential election:

More than 60% Republican (dark red)
55% to 60% Republican (light red)
Less than 55% for either party (purple)
55% to 60% Democrat (light blue)
More than 60% Democrat (dark blue)

Florida Bradenton Lakewood Ranch
River Strand
Heritage Bay
Imperial Estates
Olde Cypress
Laurel Oak
  Stuart Willoughby
Georgia Eatonton Cuscowilla
  Greensboro Reynolds Plantation
  Richmond Hill Ford Plantation
  Savannah The Landings
  St. Mary Osprey Cove
North Carolina Asheville Reems Creek
  Burnsville Mountain Air
  Brunswick County
Brunswick Forest
Ocean Ridge Plantation
River’s Edge
St. James Plantation
  Chapel Hill Governors Club
  Durham Treyburn
Lake Norman
Peninsula Club
The Pointe
  New Bern Carolina Colours
Porters Neck
South Carolina Aiken
Cedar Creek Plantation
Mt. Vintage Plantation
Woodside Plantation
Berkeley Hall
Colleton River
Haig Point
Charleston National
Daniel Island
Dunes West
Snee Farm
Cliffs at Glassy
Cliffs Valley
Greenville Country Club
Thornblade Club
  McCormick Savannah Lakes
  Myrtle Beach Barefoot Reserve, Grande Dunes, many others
  Pawleys Island
DeBordieu Colony, Pawleys Plantation, The Reserve at Litchfield,
Wachesaw Plantation
Virginia Aldie Creighton Farms
  Charlottesville Glenmore
Old Trail
  New Kent Viniterra
Federal Club
  Nellyford Wintergreen











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