Want to buy a home but finding slim pickings? Blame the builders.
New home construction has not kept pace with the improving job market in recent years and is part of the reason that housing inventory is so scarce and home prices are growing so quickly, according to a report released today by the National Association of Realtors.
After over-building leading up to the housing bubble, developer laid off workers and scaled back construction by more than 75 percent. After the crash many of those workers migrated to other industries, making it harder for builders to quickly ramp up work. There are also fewer builders now than there were a decade ago, with many going bust in the bubble and others consolidating with competitors.
While home starts have come back since the recession, the new NAR report finds that in two-thirds of markets homebuilding activity has not kept pace with the number of newly employed workers. In particular, construction of single-family homes remains at less than half its prerecession levels.
Many of the markets with the largest disparity of jobs versus home construction were hit hardest by the housing crisis but have fully rebounded, including San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego and Miami. New York is also among the top cities where home building has not kept pace.
There are several reasons that new home construction has grown so slowly in recent years, including rising construction and labor costs and tight credit. Despite those headwinds, new home construction is expected to grow by more than 25 percent this year.
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The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”