Here's a turnaround worth noting: The housing market in Phoenix is emerging from a historic slumber. Foreclosures are down, and new home sales are re-energizing the market -- up 35 percent from a year ago.
Let's get down to street level, shall we? How 'bout Ravenswood Drive near Gilbert's eastern edge.
Ken Peterson is a Vice President for Shea Homes. We're in a development called Spaces. And listen to this, air compressors and nail guns all around us.
The official report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis puts per capita personal income in Arizona last year at $35,875. That's a 3.9 percent increase over the prior year. But that was not enough to keep pace with the rest of the nation were income went up 4.3 percent. The result is that Arizona remains in 40th place. Economist Tom Rex of Arizona State University said the numbers were to be expected.
"We're very, very cyclical in Arizona," said Rex. "I'm not surprised that we'd have another pretty mediocre year. Things will turn here over the next couple of years."
The data from the state Department of Revenue shows retail sales in January of $3.7 billion. That's nearly 5.4 percent higher than the same time last year -- and more than 16 percent above two years ago. Economist Dennis Hoffman of Arizona State University called that a nice solid month of performance. But Hoffman said there is reason to believe that this year-over-year growth may not continue.
"The headwind right now is $4 gas," said Hoffman. "And that is really going to be the proof in the pudding here."
About half of all Arizona mortgages are under water, meaning owners owe more than the property is worth. This proposal was aimed at helping those who continue to make payments rather than simply walk away. It is a bit complex, involving the state using its power of eminent domain to acquire the property, paying the bank the current market value with money from investors who buy state bonds, and giving the lender a no-interest promissory note for the balance. That buys the homeowner some time for the market to recover.
LAS VEGAS — For the last year, gardener Juan Romulo was unemployed and stood outside of Las Vegas nurseries, waiting for any kind of day labor work that would come his way. Then, when a landscaping firm hired him in February, he joined the ranks of a growing number of Americans going back to work.
His new job is hard work, and the pay is barely above minimum wage, but for Romulo, it is a relief to have a steady paycheck again to feed his family.