News & Opinions
The latest news and insights from Hanley Wood’s outspoken experts and key thought-leaders throughout the residential and commercial design and construction industry.
View our Frank Talk Video Webcast
No News Is Good News?
Frank Anton / Frank Talk / January 2012
About three years ago at Hanley Wood, to counter the morale-sapping, water-torture effect of all the bad news about housing, we instituted something called “Good News Friday.” Every Friday, business unit leaders submit to me a short list of business victories big and small. Reading the reports provides a respite from the bad news about housing starts, housing prices, foreclosures and the standstill status of new home sales.
But now, for the first time in about five years, there is some good news to be found about housing. For example, housing starts are improving, and NAHB’s builder sentiment index is headed in the right direction after sitting at a record low for almost 18 months.
The best news, however, is about jobs. Payroll employment has increased by about 100,000 every month since July, pushing overall unemployment down to 8.5 percent. The number of unemployed people per job opening has declined from about seven in 2009 to about four right now. And the payscale index (it measures total cash compensation nationally), which declined steeply between 2008 and 2009 and then remained flat for two years, finally improved in the second half of 2011. So more people are working and making more money.
Even the job picture in the construction industry is getting prettier. More than 2 million construction workers lost their jobs between 2006 and the beginning of 2011. Then, last year, the construction industry reversed the trend and added 50,000 jobs. Yes, the unemployment rate for construction workers is still a staggering 21 percent, but that’s down from 25 percent a year ago.
Jobs matter not only to construction workers but to a housing recovery. People who are unemployed or afraid of losing their jobs won’t buy a house. A good, steady job is almost a prerequisite for homeownership. Putting it simply: more jobs mean more housing starts, which mean more good news for me — and you — every day of the week.
See and hear Frank Anton’s views via our Frank Talk Video Webcast.