Each day the Research staff takes a look at recently released economic indicators, addressing what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses jobless claims, the consumer price index and housing starts.
- The number of people filing for unemployment checks for the first time fell measurably in the past week to 352,000 (down 50,000 from the prior week), which further solidifies improving economic conditions.
- If weekly jobless claims can remain at or near this range then the net new job creation in 2012 could reach 3 million. But be mindful that 8 million jobs were lost in the 2008-to-2009 recessionary period, and the recovery since has added 2.5 million jobs so far. So there is still a long way to go before getting back to prior peak employment conditions.
- Separately, consumer prices stood still in December for the second consecutive month. That is, there were no changes in the overall price index in both November and December. Still, prices are up 3.0 percent from 12 months ago.
- The apartment rent component of the price index continues to rise and is accelerating. The latest data shows a 0.3 percent monthly gain and is now up 2.5 percent from 12-months ago. (see graph below)
- In other economic data news, housing starts retreated a bit in December to 657,000 units. The single-family starts rose while the multifamily starts fell in the latest month. After being under 600,000 unit starts in 2009, 2010 and the first half of 2011, the latest figure still implies better conditions. NAR expects based on rising rent trends and an improving job market that housing starts will increase by about 20 percent in 2012.