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Nov. 18, 2013

Economy Watch: Housing Slump’s Impact Unequal

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

The Census Bureau reported late last week that the recession hit home values in more populous U.S. counties harder than smaller counties. The findings came from the bureau’s latest brief, “Home Value and Homeownership Rates: Recession and Post-Recession Comparions From 2007-2009 to 2010-2012,” which uses the American Community Survey (ACS)’s three-year estimates to focus on home values and homeownership rates for smaller areas.

The small-area statistics from the ACS show that in 66.9 percent of the 1,038 smaller counties (with populations between 20,000 and 65,000), median home values in the post-recession period of 2010-2012 weren’t statistically different from the recessionary period of 2007-2009. Also, median home values in 37 of the 50 smallest counties of this size weren’t statistically different from the recession period.

By contrast, median home values in 43 of the 50 largest U.S. counties declined over the same period. Nationally, the median home value was $174,600 in the post-recession period, a $17,300 decline from the recessionary period of 2007-2009, according to the ACS.

The report also tracked homeownership rates. By 2012, the District of Columbia had the lowest homeownership rate at 41.6 percent, followed by New York at 53.9 percent. West Virginia had the highest homeownership rate (72.9 percent) and lowest median home value ($98,300), while Hawaii had the highest median home value ($503,100). Only nine states didn’t show a significant change in homeownership rates between the recessionary and post-recession periods, while all the other states had lower homeownership rates.

Industrial production down slightly

U.S. industrial production edged down 0.1 percent in October after increasing 0.7 percent in September, according to the Federal Reserve on Friday. The index for total industrial production in October was equal to its 2007 average, and 3.2 percent higher than in October 2012.

The monthly number was less than expected, but even so the industrial sector is still in relatively good shape, according to other statistics reported by the Fed. Manufacturing production, an important subset of industrial production, rose 0.3 percent in October for its third consecutive monthly gain. That increase came despite the fact that the manufacture of motor vehicles and parts in dropped 1.3 percent in October. Take cars out of the equation, and manufacturing gained 0.4 percent in October, following no change in September.

Dragging down the monthly industrial output was a 1.1 percent drop in the output of utilities, along with a 1.6 percent decline in mining production. Capacity utilization for the sector fell 0.2 percentage points in October to 78.1 percent, which is 1.1 percentage points higher than a year ago, but 2.1 percentage points below its long-run (1972-2012) average, according to the Fed.

Wall Street had another up day on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 85.48 points, or 0.54 percent. The S&P 500 gained 0.42 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.33 percent.

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