Tracking Housing and Construction Data

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Why keep abreast of housing and construction data?  As Norman Frumkin states in the 4th edition of his invaluable  Guide to Economic Indicators :  New housing construction is important to the overall economy.  Construction results in the hiring of workers, the production of construction materials and equipment, and the sale of large household appliances such as ranges and refrigerators.  In addition, when owners or tenants occupy the housing, they often buy new furniture, carpeting, and other furnishings  (p. 134)  In short, upticks in housing and construction signal an expanding, vibrant economy and vice versa.  Frumkin’s book explains the relevance of different types of housing and construction data and also lists sources.  What are the most important housing and construction indicators, and where can you find the data? Here are indicators you’ll want to keep current on if you are watching economic conditions in the U.S.:

New Residential Construction (including building permits, housing starts,and housing completions) and New Residential Sales (monthly data).  Available at U.S.Census Bureau.  Manufacturing, Mining  and Construction Statistics.  This site also includes Permits by State, Permits by Metropolitan Area, and Permits by County

Guide to Data Sources from the U.S. Census Bureau: Construction.  This comprehensive portal to construction statistics provides access to Construction Price Indexes and data on Construction Spending as well as other indicators of construction activity.

New England Economic Indicators. Produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  A quarterly real estate report is provided in each issue.  For example, see the First Quarter 2011 Report .  The content of this report includes a Home Price Index, Total Housing Permits Authorized, Existing Home Sales, and Median Sales Price of Existing Homes.

National Association of Realtors.  Research.  This site presents Housing Statistics  (home sales, pending sales, and more), Economic Indicators & Forecasts Reports by Topic, and Economists’ Outlook.

Ask a reference librarian for help finding more sources of housing and construction data!

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