For just the second time since the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve increased its target for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points. While still low, the rate increase continues the path toward higher interest rates and a normalized monetary policy after years of stimulative policy designed to support an economic recovery. The current outlook is for three additional rate hikes in 2017. Economic growth remains modest, though the pace could increase with a fiscal stimulus in the form of deficit-financed tax cuts or government spending increases as the Trump administration takes office.
The move by the Fed is consistent with recent labor market data, which reveal tight employment conditions. The unemployment rate declined to 4.6% in November, as 178,000 jobs were created during the month, of which 19,600 positions were in the home building and remodeling sector. Over 120,000 jobs have been created in residential construction within the last year. While solid employment figures are good news for housing demand, ongoing labor constraints are an inflation risk and a motivation for the Fed to continue raising rates in 2017.
–NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz