The housing industry seems to be making slow but steady gains while manufacturing seems to be slowing.
PMPA’s Business Trends Index for August is up 6 points to 117 from 111 in July, but shipments are at a level just 93% of same time last year. Our industry shows shipments up 4 % year to date. Our index is contrary to the Fed’s IP numbers for August. The Fed reported that Industrial Production fell 1.2% in August after having risen after having risen 0.5% in July. We see demand as holding on and our shops report that they continue to “hold their own.”
According to Chad Moutray at NAM, ” … the housing picture continues to show slow-but-steady gains, with increasing optimism in a sector that continues to have large hurdles. Housing starts rose 2.3 percent in August, with an annualized 750,000 new residential units being built. This continues an upward trajectory, particularly for single-family homes. Housing permits, while down somewhat for the month, remained more than 800,000, indicating that the housing market should continue to expand moving forward. Existing home sales were also higher, and homebuilder confidence rose to its highest level in more than six years.”
I see the return of housing, even at its current low rate, as a positive sign for our industry. Diversifying markets and mix is better than ‘live or die’ with a single market segment. A varied diet is good for our personal health, and the industry will be healthier when the choices we have are more varied than only one or two markets to serve.