September reports on new housing construction, existing home sales, and regional & state employment

  with most of the monthly economic reports released during the last half of last week, this week was a fairly light one for economic releases, with two just widely watched reports on housing to note:  New Residential Construction report for September (pdf) from the Census Bureau, and the National Association of Realtors’ report on September existing home sales…other national releases included the Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary for September from the BLS and the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) for September, a weighted composite index of 85 different economic metrics, constructed such that a zero value indicates economic growth at the historical trend rate; the CFNAI inched up to –0.37 in September from –0.39 in August, which left the 3 month average at –0.09, indicating national economic activity has been slightly below above its historical trend…the week also saw the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey for October, which covers western Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming and northern New Mexico, and which reported its broadest composite index rose to -1 in October, up from -8 in September and -9 in August, indicating that the regional contraction, mostly in the energy industry, has slowed…

Census Reports New Housing Starts Increased in September, New Permits Fell

the September report on New Residential Construction (pdf) from the Census Bureau estimated that the widely watched count of new housing starts was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,206,000 in September, which was 6.5 percent (±16.4%)* above the revised August estimate of 1,132,000 housing starts annually and 17.5 percent (±18.0%)* above last September’s rate of 1,026,000 housing starts a year…the asterisks indicate that the Census does not have sufficient data to determine whether housing starts rose or fell over the past month or even over the past year, with the figure in parenthesis the most likely range of the change indicated; thus, September housing starts could have been down 9.9% or up 22.9% for all they know, with subsequent large revisions likely…in this report, the annual rate for August housing starts was revised from 1,126,000 to 1,132,000, while July starts, which were first reported at 1,206,000 annually, were revised from last month’s 1,161,000 annually to 1,152,000 annually…..those annual rates of starts indicated by the headline change are extrapolated from a survey of a small percentage of permit offices visited by Census field agents, which estimated that 111,000 housing units were started in September, down from 100,300 units started in August, which was initially estimated at 99,900 housing starts…of those housing units started in September, an estimated 64,800 were single family homes and 45,000 were units in structures with more than 5 units….the unadjusted estimates also show that housing starts were down in the Midwest, while they were up in the Northeast, South and West, but none of those indicated regional changes were greater than the statistical margin of error for that region…

the monthly data on new building permits, with a smaller margin of error, are probably a better monthly indicator of new housing construction trends than the volatile and often revised starts data…in September, Census estimated new building permits were being issued at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,170,000 housing units, which was 5.0 percent (±1.4%) below the revised August rate of 1,161,000 permits annually but still 4.7 percent (±2.0%) above the rate of permit issuance a year earlier…again,.the estimates for new permits reported here were extrapolated from the unadjusted estimate, which showed permits for 96,800 housing units were issued in September, which was down from the estimated 97,200 new permits issued in August, with increases in permits issued in the Northeast and Midwest regions…those September permits included 59,700 permits for single family homes, down from 61,100 single family permits in August, and 33,800 permits for housing units in apartment buildings with 5 or more units, up from 33,400 such permits a month earlier…for more details and graphics on this report, see Bill McBride’s two posts, Housing Starts increased to 1.206 Million Annual Rate in September and Comments on September Housing Starts

Existing Home Sales Rise 4.7% in September

in the other housing related release this week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that seasonally adjusted existing home sales rose by 4.7% in September, projecting that 5.55 million homes would sell over an entire year if September sales were extrapolated over that year, a rate 8.8% higher than the annual rate projected in September of a year ago, and the 2nd highest monthly pace of existing home sales since February 2007…the annual rate of August home sales was revised down slightly, from 5.31 million to 5.30 million…the NAR also reports that the median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $221,900, which was up 6.1% from a year earlier and the 43rd consecutive year over year increase in home prices…the NAR press release, which is titled Existing-Home Sales Regain Momentum in September, is in easy to read plain English, so if you’re interested in more details you can find them there…as sales of existing properties do not add to our national output, neither these sales nor the prices for which these homes sell are included in GDP, except insofar as real estate, local government and banking services are rendered…

since this report is entirely seasonally adjusted and at a annual rate, we’ll take a look at the raw data overview (pdf), which gives us a close approximation to the actual number of homes that sold each month…this indicates that roughly 471,000 homes sold in September, down 6.5% from the 504,000 homes that sold in August (which was revised from 505,000) but still up 8.0% from the 436,000 homes that sold in September last year…the regional change in September sales ranged from a decrease of 9.7% to 65,000 home sales in the Northeast to a 4.7% decrease to 102,000 home sales in the West….that same pdf indicates that the median home selling price for all housing types fell 2.9% from a revised $228,500 in August to $221,900 in September, while the average home sales price was $265,000, down 2.3% from the $271,300 average in August, but up 3.9% from the $255,000 average home sales price of September a year ago, with the regional averages ranging from a low of $207,000 in the Midwest to a high of $352,700 in the West…for additional coverage with long term graphs on this report, see Existing Home Sales in September: 5.55 million SAAR and A Few Random Comments on September Existing Home Sales by Bill McBride at Calculated Risk… 

State and Regional Employment Report for September

the Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary for September expands on the national employment situation summary of three weeks ago by breaking down the state and regional details…as with most BLS reports, the press release is very readable & self explanatory, with BLS referring to appropriate tables linked to at the bottom of the press release wherever relevant, and with tables and coverage of all 50 states, it’s more detailed than we can meaningfully cover in a short synopsis….the BLS table corresponding to household survey data, including the seasonally adjusted count of the unemployed and the unemployment rate for each state, is here….North Dakota at 2.8% has replaced Nebraska as the state with the lowest unemployment rate, largely through a reduction of their labor force, while West Virginia had the highest unemployment rate at 7.3%…

for a breakdown of payroll employment by job type for each state over the past 3 months, and the change in employment since last September, see the following two BLS tables accompanying this release: Table 5. Employees on nonfarm payrolls by state and selected industry sector, seasonally adjusted and Table 6. Employees on nonfarm payrolls by state and selected industry sector, not seasonally adjusted …the latter two tables are very detailed, giving you both actual and seasonally adjusted totals for jobs in each state and the District of Columbia in several categories, including construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities, financial, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality and government….the 21 page pdf version of this report has even more detail also includes map graphics for both the employment rate and the year over year payroll jobs increase by state and region…

(the above is the synopsis that accompanied my regular sunday morning links emailing, which in turn was mostly selected from my weekly blog post on the global glass onion…if you’d be interested in receiving my weekly emailing of selected links, most from the aforementioned GGO posts, contact me…)

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