Like the rest of the country, Rockland County has been affected by the major recession and housing market collapse. Unemployment has increased from a December 2006 low of 3.2% to 7.4% in June and July of 2009. As of August the official tally had decreased to 7.3%, but challenges remain across New York as sales and income tax receipts are down. In Rockland sales tax receipts are down over 3% and money brought in from mortgage taxes has decreased as well.
The unemployment figures in Rockland are slightly higher than the recession in the early 1990’s and two percentage points higher than the downturn earlier in this decade. Nationally the unemployment rate is above 9%, the highest since the recession of the early 1980’s. New York State’s overall tax receipts are down 7.7% from last year as of September according to the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance. That is $516 million less than last year. The dip in revenue is the worst since the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack. In Rockland, sales tax receipts are down 3.8%.
In response to the financial problems, the Governor of New York has proposed over $4 billion in spending cuts. County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef proposed a 2010 budget with a 1% increase in spending and a 4% increase in County property taxes. Vanderhoef also said he’s responded to the weak economy by cutting $10 million in County salaries through early retirement buyouts. He has eliminated about 200 positions, he said.
The collapse of the housing market has caused a drastic decline in prices and a shift in strengths in the marketplace. The number of homes being sold has plummeted along with the price. According to the Greater Hudson Valley Multiple Listing Service the housing market in Rockland is still in decline at the moment. There were 248 new listings in September, at an average price of $559,102. That’s 10.6% less than new listings last September. Below, compare prices homes were being sold in 2005 to 2008.
In 2005 GHVMLS reported that:
230 homes were sold in Rockland for over $750,000
653 from $500,000 to 749,000
557 from $400,000 to 499,000
174 from $350,000 to 399,000
94 from $300,000 to 349,000
In 2008 GHVMLS reported that:
102 homes sold in Rockland for over $750,000
348 from $500,000 to 749,000
392 from $400,000 to 499,000
175 from $350,000 t0 $399,000
81 from $300,000 to $349,000
There has even been a resurfacing of a few homes that have sold below $100,000, something that hasn’t been seen since the early part of the decade. While in light of the rapid collapse of the market it may seem like prices are low, keep in mind that in 2001 the vast majority of homes in Rockland were being sold between $200,000 and $400,000. GHVMLS reported that the rapid decline in the market has abated some and it is possible a bottom will be reached in the coming year. While some experts like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke believe the economy will recover in the coming months, it is worth remembering Mr. Bernanke and most others did not accurately forecast the current recession in the first place. Hang on tight; we are sure to see a positive change in trends as long as we continue to persevere.