The U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department recently reported—growth that, though modest, underwhelmed. The unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent, and hourly wages on average went up 9 cents to $26.63.
“The job market continues to improve, but at a decelerating pace,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), in a statement. “The year 2017 ended with 2.1 million net new job additions, a very solid rate; however, the gains had been 2.6 million, 2.9 million, and 2.5 million in the three preceding years. More jobs and more income for households definitely attest to the rising housing demand.
“As to the supply of homes, construction workers are needed,” Yun said. “In 2017, a net 190,000 new workers were employed in the construction industry, and that also marks a decelerating trend, as the prior three years averaged 284,000 annual additions. With the unemployment rate in the construction industry having fallen from over 20 percent in 2010 to 5.9 percent at the year-end of 2017, there could be a little growth to home construction despite the ongoing housing shortage. There needs to be serious consideration in allowing temporary work visas until American trade schools can adequately crank out much needed, domestic skilled construction workers.”
“[The] increase in construction labor is a hopeful reminder that things will eventually get better for our severely depleted housing market,” said Joseph Kirchner, senior economist for realtor.com®, in a statement. “In fact, if this trend gains momentum, it could address one of the largest issues holding back inventory: a lack of construction labor. Let’s hope it does, because the report also shows no end in sight for the insatiable demand we’re seeing in the market. Jobs drive housing demand and with the unemployment rate remaining at its lowest level of the millennium, it’s only going to pick up.”
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