State & National Updates
Economic Growth Picks Up the Pace
After a slow start to the year, economic growth accelerated in the spring. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP growth stepped up to a 2.6% annual rate in the second quarter, a significant improvement over the 1.2% rate registered for the first three months of 2017. NAHB forecasts the economy's modest growth will continue over the near term.
The homeownership rate is finally showing signs of stabilizing after years of decline. Census Bureau data for the second quarter showed a homeownership rate of 63.7%, after reaching a cycle low of 62.9% during the second quarter of 2016. Moreover, the Census data also showed that for two consecutive quarters, the U.S. housing market has added more home owners than renters.
Demand for owner-occupied housing will depend on the future of the labor market, which continues to be tight. Over the last two months, the economy has added an estimated 440,000 jobs. The residential construction labor force continues to expand, but at a slow pace. In the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 188,300 jobs. However, the count of open, unfilled construction sector jobs increased in June to 225,000 — the highest count since September 2016.
NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz
After declining in the previous month, unfilled jobs increased significantly in June.
Census data show signs of stabilization after reaching a low point one year ago.
Fewer investors meant first-time buyers had a better chance to enter the market.
Optimism has remained solid for three consecutive years.
Financial incentives are growing for foreign companies to export their lumber to the U.S.
Since the first quarter of 2017, an additional 20 metro areas have achieved normal market activity.
Measures aim to "foster maximum employment and price stability."
The leveling off comes after six consecutive months of growth.
The unemployment rate dropped back to its 16-year low of 4.3%.
Lending and Spending
The recent findings can serve as reliable indicators of future economic growth.
The share of FHA-backed mortgages dropped below 12% for the first time since 2014.
Rates are still below the peak of 4.18% recorded in February.
June was the third consecutive month of decreases after a strong start to the year.