June 2015
Supported By
Operation Finally Home
Tyson Construction has teamed up with Operation Finally Home and the Irving Morris Foundation to help build a mortgage free home for a wounded veteran. The groundbreaking ceremony was held recently in Ashton Plantation, in Luling, where the custom home will be built for U.S. Army Veteran Nathan Young, his wife Tabitha, daughter Emme, and service dog Maggie. Tyson Construction would like to thank HBA President Roy Olsen, Phil Hoffman, and Randy Noel for attending the groundbreaking.
  
 
Operation Finally Home is a national, non profit organization out of Texas, whose primary goal is to bring communities, organizations and custom builders together to build mortgage free homes for wounded veterans and their families. Sergeant Nathan Young sustained multiple injuries when his vehicle was bombed on his second tour in Iraq, in 2010. The home will be tailored to his needs along with his family's. Local support for the project has already started to come in, but to learn more how you can help with the project, contact Zach Tyson of Tyson Construction (zachtyson@gmail.com).
    
Legislative Recap
Orleans Parish-Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance

After a 10 hour meeting on May 14, 2015, the New Orleans City Council approved the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO). This ordinance was drafted to work directly with the current master plan to help determine how the city is developed. It took almost four years and much public input to create the plan that has now been approved. The HBA's Executive Vice President, Jon Luther had the opportunity to work on a task force that assisted with the development of the document.

The adopted CZO is developer friendly and softens restrictions in the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater areas. These new rules will allow for taller buildings and smaller units in exchange for more access to affordable housing and certain design considerations.

For an in-depth look into the changes to the CZO, please Click Here.

Fiscal Legislative Session Recap

Join the HBAGNO's General Membership Meeting on June 30, 2015 when we host Michelle Shirley, LHBA's state lobbyist, as she summarizes this year's Legislative Session. This GMM will be hosted at the Holiday Inn in Metairie. For more information and to register for this event, please follow Click Here.

Member Rebate Program
The Member Rebate Program is a free member benefit of your State & Local Home Builders Association.

There are over 40 of the country's leading manufacturer brands participating in the Member Rebate Program.

Visit www.HBArebates.com for more information, or CLICK HERE to view an online brochure with helpful information about the program.
Crudely Speaking
Elliot Eisenberg
Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is President of GraphsandLaughs, LLC and can be reached at Elliot@graphsandlaughs.com. His daily 70 word economics and policy blog can be seen at www.econ70.com. 

  

Historically, the price of West Texas Intermediate Crude (WTI) has always been slightly higher than the price of North Sea Brent Crude, the major benchmark off which two-thirds of the world's internationally traded crude oil is priced. WTI has historically been more expensive because it is "light sweet crude," meaning it contains less than 0.5% of sulfur and is considerably lighter than water and lighter than any other crude oil, and therefore the world's most valuable oil.

 

Despite possessing these very desirable physical characteristics, for the last several years WTI has regularly traded for less, sometimes much less, than Brent. This situation is not only detrimental to American oil exploration and production firms but also US households. Interestingly, this situation can be easily righted if only Congress would pass legislation. Let me explain.  

 

Until 1973, US oil, like all other goods and services, could be easily exported. However, an export ban was imposed after the 1973 Arab oil embargo in an attempt to prevent future oil shortages and arguably to help the US gain energy independence.  For decades the ban had no obvious impact as the US was a huge oil importer. But now due to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the US now produces about twice as much oil as it did a few short years ago and is now the world's second largest oil producer.

 

Because the US used to import large quantities of oil, and because due to geography and politics the imported oil was primarily "heavy sour crude," most American refineries are ill equipped to refine the high quality WTI coming from the new and newly-invigorated US oil fields. As a result, US crude oil is quickly filing up storage tanks and in the process driving down the price as domestic supply vastly exceeds refiner demand.

 

If Congress were to lift the export ban, the price of WTI would rise to the world price, which would expand domestic oil exploration and production and increase rig counts and employment in the oil patch. Counterintuitively, it would also reduce the retail price of gasoline. This is because gasoline is tied to the price of Brent, since all refiners except American ones distill crude into gasoline from oil priced off of Brent.

 

Because the export ban does not cover distilled products like diesel, gasoline and jet fuel, the price American refiners charge for distillates is the world price, even though the crude they purchase is cheaper due to the export ban on domestic crude. Gasoline here and abroad would thus be cheaper because the release of more US crude onto the world market that is now bottled up onshore due to the export ban, would reduce, albeit slightly, the price of Brent, and in the process slightly reduce the price of distillates including gasoline.

 

Of course there is never a free lunch in economics. Were the export ban lifted, the losers would include domestic refiners as they would pay more for crude, and foreign oil producers such as the Saudis, Russians, Canadians and others as they would receive slightly less for theirs. That said, repealing the ban makes sense. It would save US consumers money and slightly increase returns to investors in the oil patch. And if the Saudis are unhappy, they can recall that the export ban only exists because they embargoed us 40 years ago!
 
From last month... 
Orleans Parish to Enforce Dumpster Ordinance
Zachary Smith, AIA, Chief Building Official for Orleans Parish addressed the HBAGNO Board of Directors on Tuesday, April 21st. He updated the board on the status on online permit filing with One Stop, common issues with electric meters, and updated code enforcement. One major point he wanted all builders and vendors to be aware of is that the standards for construction dumpsters, which has been on the books for quite some time without much implementation, will now be enforced parish-wide. See the PDF below for details on this standard

Reinventing Downtown NOLA: A Better Version of Ourselves
Kurt Weigle, President & CEO of New Orleans Downtown Development District, spoke at the March 2015 HBAGNO General Membership Meeting. Kurt spoke about the comprehensive 5-year strategic plan to support economic development and industry in downtown New Orleans. 

After the meeting, we had many requests for Kurt's speech. The link to the PDF is below. 

2% is the new 3%
Elliot Eisenberg
Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is President of GraphsandLaughs, LLC and can be reached at Elliot@graphsandlaughs.com. His daily 70 word economics and policy blog can be seen at www.econ70.com. 


 

Last year 3.2 million net new jobs were created, the best performance since 2000, and total employment is now several million higher than it was before the recession began.  In addition, the unemployment rate which is 5.7% continues to fall and should be at or near 5% by year end, a level economists consider full employment.  All of this good news, yet serious problems remain.  The labor force participation rate (LFRP) is at levels last seen in 1978, which makes the unemployment rate look better than it really is and after adjusting for inflation, wages have been declining for years.  What is going on?    


 

The LFPR peaked at 67.3% in January 2000 and had had already fallen to 66% by the start of the Great Recession in January 2008, suggesting that other forces beyond the weak economy were already at work pushing it down.  That said, by the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, the LFPR was down just half-of-one-percentage-point to 65.5%.  Normally, it then would have started rising as the improving economy pulled unemployed workers back into the labor force from the ranks of the unemployed.  Instead, the LFPR went into free fall, hitting a low of 62.8% in October 2013 where it has remained since. 


 

The decline in the LFPR from 66% to 62.8% not only represents a loss of four and a half million workers, but also has no historic precedent.  That said, much of the decline was inevitable.  About half the decline is due to demographics.  That is the number of Baby Boomers who are retiring is currently vastly outpacing the number of new entrants into the labor market.  Exacerbating this trend is that today's youngsters are better educated and thus spend longer in school than earlier generations, further delaying their entrance into the world of work.


 

Another quarter of the decline is due to the severity of the recent recession, and the remaining 25% decline is simply unexplained.  These might be people who are obtaining additional education, receiving disability insurance and may or may not work again, those who have become unemployable and those who simply gave up.  Whatever the cause, knowing how many people in this category return to work is critical to understanding what lies ahead.  


 

Some have returned, some will return and some will never return.  However, no matter what happens to those persons, close to 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day.  As a result, the fact that the LFRP has not fallen since October 2013 suggests these discouraged workers are returning.  Were that not the case, the LFRP would have continued falling.  So flat really is the new up!


 

Looking to the future, the greater the number of these discouraged workers who return to the labor force, the slower the decline in the unemployment rate will be, the higher the LFRP will be but perhaps most importantly, the slower wage growth will be.  And that's the kicker.  By contrast, if discouraged workers stop returning to the labor force, the unemployment rate will fall faster and wages will start rising more quickly but it would also mean that millions of previously employed persons have given up on work and that is very bad. 


 

Ideally, discouraged workers will continue returning and wages will remain flat for a while longer but will eventually start rising.  Unfortunately, my guess is that relatively few discouraged workers who have not yet returned will.  As a result, expect wage growth to start rising sooner, probably by year end.
Last year, GDP growth was a mediocre 2.4%. While it was the best growth since 2010 when GDP growth was a "sparkling" 2.5%, it means yet another year, the ninth in a row, of sub 3% GDP growth. There has never been a run of such weak GDP growth since record keeping began in 1930. Yes, there were terrible periods but they were all blessedly brief, never lasting more than two or three years and they always occurred during recessions. In our case, the recession ended in June 2009. What is going on? The fact is that our weak GDP growth is not surprising at all, let me explain.

GDP growth is composed of two things, growth in the labor force and growth in labor productivity. GDP rises when more people work, and better yet, when they work more productively. Productivity growth is particularly important because it boosts living standards.

GDP growth was very good following WWII because annual labor force growth grew dramatically from 0.5% in 1950 to almost 2.5% in 1975. As a result, the prime-aged working population, those between the ages of 25 and 54, grew from 60 million to almost 80 million in 25 short years. While population growth then began to decline, it remained above 1% through 2003. As a result, the prime-aged population continued growing, hitting 122 million in 2003. As a matter of fact, the labor force grew much faster than the population during the 1970s and 1980s due to the huge influx of women into the labor force. As a result, the prime-aged working population grew by over 3% per year during the 1980s.

Since 2003, population growth has slowed further and is now barely 0.7%. Moreover, the Boomers have begun retiring in large numbers and the number of working men and women has, for a number of reasons, continued to slowly decline. As a result, the size of the prime-aged working population has essentially flat-lined since 2003. As a matter of fact, it peaked in 2007. If the size of the prime-aged working population is flat, it's hard to experience rapid GDP growth even if labor productivity growth is good.

Regrettably, labor productivity growth has not been particularly good of late. But first some history: from 1948 through 1973 labor productivity grew at an amazing average annual rate of 2.8%. Add to that rapid labor force growth, and it's no wonder GDP growth averaged 4.1% per year. Between 1974 and 1990, labor productivity grew by an anemic 1.4% percent but given good population growth, GDP growth was a solid 3.0% per year. From 1991 through 2007, productivity perked up to a very respectable 2.4%, and despite weak population growth, GDP still averaged 3% per year.

Since the start of the Great Recession, however, we have experienced anemic labor productivity growth of, again, 1.4% per year and a trivial increase in the working population. As a result, GDP growth has averaged a dismal 1.2% per year. Luckily the prime-aged working population is again starting to rise, which is good. The million dollar question is "How will labor productivity growth perform?" Will it be a replay of the boom years of 1974 through 1990, the crummy years since 2007, or more likely something in between? While nobody knows for sure, GDP growth should drift upwards as demographics become more favorable and labor productivity hopefully rises.
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2015 Senior Officers of the Board

President, Roy Olsen
Vice President, Floyd Simeon
Treasurer, Mike LeCorgne
Secretary, Frank Morse
Immediate Past President, Brian Mills

2015 Board of Directors

Steve Albert
John Arms
Fernando Arriola
Lori Barker
Nick Castjohn
Ric Darling
Nicole Dupre
Charlie Fontenelle
Eddie Gandolfi
Phil Hoffman
Kevin Katner
Jo Ann Kostik
Michael Kraft
Peter Lanaux
Ben Laws
Bruce Layburn
Harold LeBlanc
Scott Morse
Helmut Mundt
Randy Noel
Lynda Nugent Smith
Rolf Parelius
Zach Tyson
Kirk Williamson
Steve Wobbema
Wes Wyman
Peter Young

Also Supported By: 

2-10

 

June Calendar of Events
All Events held at HBA office unless otherwise noted 
 
6-7) Parade of Homes  
 
11) Remodelers Council Meeting  @ 12pm

13) Wes Wyman Memorial Fishing Rodeo

16) HBA Board of Directors @ 4pm 
 
17) Education: Incorporating Generators into Building Plans

18) Advanced Building Practices Council Meeting @ noon 
 
23-25) Designation Classes: CAPS I, CAPS II, & Business Management for Building Professionals 

30) General Membership Meeting  
Featured Events
fish

June 13
Wess Wyman Memorial Fishing Rodeo
Gulf Outlet Marina, Chalmette


June General Membership Meeting
Tuesday, June 30th 
Holiday Inn, 
2261 N. Causeway Blvd.
Metairie

Guest Speaker: 
Michelle Shirley,
LHBA Lobbyist

Meeting Topic: 
2015 Louisiana State Legislative Session Recap

11am - New Member Orientation 
11:30 - Networking
12-1pm - Lunch & Program

Members:
$25 in advance
$30 day of

Guests: $30
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Members: List your job opening here at no charge!
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HBA Staff Contacts

Jon Luther, Executive Vice President
Philip Thomas, Education Director & NOEL Program Director  philip@home-builders.org
Lauren Galliano, Director of Membership & Industry Relations   lauren@home-builders.org
Rita Bautista, Governmental Affairs Representative    rita@home-builders.org
Shane Gray, Accountant  shane@home-builders.org


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