Jobs

Too Many Houses, Not Enough Jobs

This is what the recovery looks like: Lots of people are still losing their jobs, and there's still a glut of unsold houses on the market.

More than 460,000 people per week are filing initial claims for unemployment, the Labor Department said this morning. That figure has been more or less flat for months now. In a strong labor market, it would be below 400,000 per week.

Of course, if you just lost your job — or if you're afraid you're about to — you're not going to rush out and buy a house. So:

August was the second-worst month for home sales in more than a decade, according to figures out this morning from the National Association of Realtors. (July was worse — sales that month were the lowest in 14 years.)

It would take more than 11 months to sell all of the homes that were on the market in August; in a normal market, there is about six months of supply.

This oversupply is likely to push home prices down further — particularly given millions of looming foreclosures, which will only add to the glut of houses on the market.

Note that these figures include only existing homes. The latest numbers on sales of newly built homes will be out tomorrow. Expect more of the same.

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