Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Up or Down?

Don Klepper-Smith, our local economist, recently published a press release, quoting the Register, which was quoting the Commercial Record (yes, I know, therein most likely lies the problem).  Anyway, by the time Don repeated this chain of statistics, he reported that the health of the economy in Greater New Haven had gone drastically south in the month of March (of course, most people here wanted to go south last month, but I'm talking numbers now).  He picked out the trends in consumer confidence and job loss as being particularly problematic, and causing our region to buck the national positive trend line.  He went on to say that housing was the single bright spot in the figures, and that the median price for single-family homes had risen by $45,000 last month.  That seemed so improbable to me that I called the Commercial Record to check.

According to them, February's numbers showed a huge increase in the median sales price, combined with a steep decline in the number of sales, so the particular mix of the lesser number of sales seems to have affected the price for that month.  For the year so far, total sales are down, unlike most parts of the country.  When I had them check March, the median sales price had evened out, and was almost the same as it had been in 2012, but the number of sales was again way down. When I asked the reporter what she made of these numbers, she said that most places in the country are now reporting that sales are not increasing as rapidly as they had been, nor are prices rising as rapidly, but she said that Connecticut clearly is lagging behind other states.  She attributed that to state budget woes.

So, to recap this confusing report:  The recovery appears to be sputtering in our region, although it is not as robust in other places as it has been for the past few months.  Here, we are seeing prices that are flat to slightly down, which puts us behind everywhere else, with 2013 numbers that are far below 2012's.  I'm going with weather as the cause of that, although state problems and consumer confidence are quite possible alternative explanations.  Let's hope it gets better soon, and I'm betting that the weather improves before the State solves its fiscal issues!