The puzzle that is Delaware’s home value

    Remember when tiny little Delaware was bucking all the national trends for employment and home prices? Well, those days seem as distant as the era of job security and rising wages that preceded them.


    This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

    According to a report by the Data firm CoreLogic, Delaware was the only state in the month of July where home prices declined, compared to the previous year. The ONLY state. There’s been some question about the numbers CoreLogic used to develop their assessment, but with Delaware’s small real estate market (in comparison to other states), foreclosures and short sales have a greater effect on the overall market, potentially leading to the decline in prices.

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    The decline in home prices, and the resulting decline in new home starts, is effecting the state’s overall economic health. According to Moody’s Analytics, Delaware is the ONLY state (that darn word again) that faces the prospect of entering another recession.

    Governor Markell has been quick to criticize Moody’s assessment, and understandably so. What once looked like an administration that could do no wrong bringing jobs to Delaware has been forced to suffer through a string of job-creating defeats, most publicly with the electric car manufacturer Fisker.

    That’s not to say Markell’s administration has been sitting on its hands – promised new jobs at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One and Amazon are all positive steps to helping shore up Delaware’s economy.

    “Employment growth in Delaware has outperformed the country,” Markell said in a Kent County town hall meeting on Tuesday, referring to a 2014 fiscal year forecast from the economic firm IHS Global Insight and the Delaware Department of Finance.

    “That’s not anybody’s editorial. That is a fact,” he said.

    Unfortunately, it’s also a fact that the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council just reduced two-year revenue estimates by $25 million, mostly due to declining casino revenue and slower corporate income tax collections. And Delaware’s unemployment rate now matches the federal level, which has been slowly declining. Delaware’s unemployment rate, however, has remained stagnant.

    Is Delaware falling off an economic cliff? I don’t think so. But as the News Journal put it in an editorial, there may be no new threats on the horizon, but there are no real signs of relief either. 


    Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at, or follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe.


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