Recent Blog Posts

The count of unfilled jobs in the overall construction sector declined recently, as residential construction employment accelerated in the last three months. According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs (on a seasonally adjusted basis) came in at 148,000 in December. The cycle high was 225,000 set in July. The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for December was 2.2%.

For the country as a whole, the NAHB/First American Leadings Markets Index (LMI), released today, rose to .99 in the fourth quarter of 2016, .01 point higher than its level in the third quarter of 2016, .98, and .05 point higher than its level from one year ago, .94. The LMI is now .21 point above its low of .78 reached in March 2012. The index uses single-family housing permits, employment, and home prices to measure proximity to a normal economic and housing market. The index is calculated for both the entire country and for 337 local markets, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

Recent data from several sources show that home buyers’ desire for large homes (of at least 2,000 square feet) is easier to satisfy in the new housing stock than among existing homes. To be more precise, 51 percent of home buyers want homes with more than 2,000 square feet of living space. Only 41 percent of existing—but 70 percent of new—single-family homes are of this size. Similarly, 44 percent of buyers want homes with more than two bathrooms. Again, this falls between the 31 percent of existing—and 68 percent of new—single-family homes that have more than two full baths. In other words, new construction is addressing a substantial demand for homes with over 2,000 square feet of space and more than two bathrooms, which tend to be under-represented in the stock of existing homes. And while open floor plans are popular among home buyers, the design of a new home tends to be even more open.

Consumer credit outstanding expanded by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 8.5% over the month of August 2016, 2.6 percentage points faster than its growth rate in July, 5.9%. According to the report, released by the Federal Reserve Board, there is now $3.69 trillion in outstanding consumer credit. Growth in revolving credit, which is largely composed of credit card debt, contributed to the expansion in total consumer credit.