NPR logo Housing-Starts Trend Makes A Gnarly Chart

Housing-Starts Trend Makes A Gnarly Chart

Economic data often seem a lot like the weather — it's hot one day, cool the next. Hard to know how to dress from one day to another, let alone the greater meaning of it all.

Which is why it's often best to see a trend line instead of just seeing one month's data without a lot of context.

So what does the trend line look like for housing starts, especially since the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday morning another data point, i.e., that starts dropped 10 percent in May, its worst performance in five months? The drop followed the end of the federal government's housing-credit program in April.

Housing Charts 10-year chart
Commerce Dept/Census Bureau

I think you'll agree: it makes for one gnarly-looking 10-year chart.

It's a visual reminder of how big the bubble was and how far away the current situation is from anything we got accustomed to thinking of as "normal" before the bottom dropped out of the housing market.