Economy Watch: Homebuilders Still Confident
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes was unchanged in November from a downwardly revised level of 54 in October, according to the National Association of Home Builders, which released its Housing Market Index on Monday. That means that for the sixth consecutive month, more builders believe market conditions are good than poor.
The index gauging current sales conditions in November held steady at 58, while the component measuring expectations for future sales fell one point to 60—both strong readers. The index gauging traffic of prospective buyers, which is the weakest component, dropped one point to 42.
“Policy and economic uncertainty is undermining consumer confidence,” NAHB chief economist David Crowe warned. “The fact that builder confidence remains above 50 is an encouraging sign, considering the unresolved debt and federal budget issues cause builders and consumers to remain on the sideline.”
Fewer Americans on the move
Americans aren’t moving as much as they once did, according to a report released by the Census Bureau on Monday. About 35.9 million U.S. residents, or 11.7 percent of all Americans, moved between during the 12 months ending in March 2013, down from 12 percent during the same period a year earlier. The decline in the nation’s overall mover rate follows an uptick from the record low of 11.6 percent for the period ending in March 2011. That means the 2013 mover rate isn’t statistically different from the 2011 rate.
Most moves are local. Nearly two-thirds of movers stay in the same county, and even those who leave their county didn’t move all that far away: 40.2 percent of inter-county movers relocated less than 50 miles away. Only 24.7 percent moved 500 or more miles to their new location.
Young Americans in particular aren’t moving at the velocity they once did, mostly because their employment situation (on the whole) isn’t nearly as healthy as their elders, and because fewer of them are buying houses than during previous decades. According to the bureau, only 23.3 percent of adults aged 25-29 moved in the 12 months ending March 2013. That’s smallest percentage in 50 years, and down from the previous year’s 24.6 percent.
Housing starts report postponed
Official numbers on housing starts in October were to have been released on Tuesday, but the Census Bureau said on Monday that the statistics would be out on Nov. 26, citing the rippling impact of the federal government shutdown last month. The September report, which wasn’t released at all last month, will come out at the same time as the November report. Normally timed data collection and data releases, the bureau says, will resume with the release of the November data in December.
Wall Street held steady on Monday until near the end, when sellers started outpacing buyers. Still, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 14.32 points, or 0.09 percent. The S&P 500 lost 0.37 percent and the Nasdaq declined 0.93 percent.