Policy Points

23.10.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Housing Market: September Starts/Permits

Housing Market: September Starts/Permits

From the latest issue of the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Housing Market Monitor:

After rebounding from the extraordinarily low levels of last winter, housing construction seems to have stabilized over the last three months. Starts were at a 590,000 annual rate in October, the same level as June and also the average for the last two months. Starts of single-family homes have increased slightly over this period, rising by 4.8 percent from their June level. Starts in buildings with 5 or more units fell by 22.8 percent.

On a more encouraging note, it appears that the pace of foreclosures may finally be slowing. According to MDA Data Quick, notices of default in California were down by 10 percent compared with the second quarter, although they were up 18.5 percent from the third quarter of 2008. Actual foreclosures were down by 37 percent from their year ago level, although they have been rising modestly in the last two quarters. These figures present a mixed picture on mortgage modification plans. The modification plans probably have slowed the rate of foreclosure slightly in California, one of the hardest hit states in the country, but foreclosures are still occurring at a rate of close to 200,000 a year.

It is likely that house prices may see renewed downward pressure with fewer first-time buyers in the market. Also, many sellers who had delayed putting their homes on the market may no longer have the ability to delay selling further. And there continues to be a large supply of foreclosed homes.

22.10.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Oct. 22

Around the Dial – Oct. 22

Economic policy reports, blog postings, and media stories of interest:

22.10.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 10/3

Unemployment Claims in NC: Week of 10/3

For the benefit week ending on October 3rd, 17,292 North Carolinians filed initial claims for unemployment insurance, and 180,235 individuals applied for continuing insurance benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were more initial and fewer continuing claims. These figures come from data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 17,040 initial claims were filed over the last four weeks, along with an average of 183,578 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, initial claims rose slightly and continuing claims fell slightly. untitled

The graph shows the changes in unemployment insurance claims (as a share of covered employment) in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.

Although new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, the claims levels remain elevated and point to a labor market that remains extremely weak.

22.10.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Manufacturing Activity in the South Atlantic

Manufacturing Activity in the South Atlantic

From the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s September survey of manufacturing activity in the South Atlantic (District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia):

Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region expanded for the fifth straight month in September, according to the Richmond Fed’s latest survey. All broad indicators — shipments, new orders and employment — landed in positive territory, with manufacturers noting their first increase in worker numbers since December 2007. Other indicators were mixed, however. Capacity utilization grew more slowly, while backlogs and vendor delivery times shrank. In addition, manufacturers reported slower growth in inventories.

21.10.2009 Policy Points Comments Off on Around the Dial – Oct. 21

Around the Dial – Oct. 21

Economic policy reports, blog postings, and media stories of interest: