America's housing boom is also a backlog
America doesn't have enough homes for all the people who want to buy them. So the construction sector is getting busy — or at least trying to.
Driving the news: Homebuilding activity has surged, with the number of new housing units under construction soaring to the highest level in nearly 50 years.
Our thought bubble: This is good! A pipeline of new homes could someday help relieve the pressure of rising housing costs.
- Shelter costs are the single biggest driver of consumer price inflation. They were up 4.4% over the last year.
- And don't forget the impact on the labor market. Over the last 12 months nearly 40,000 new jobs were created in residential construction.
Yes, but: Data on housing units currently under construction doesn't tell the whole story, analysts say.
- Supply chain snarls on everything from gutters to garage doors have led to a massive backlog of houses languishing in the pipeline. (The WSJ recently spelled this out.)
Worth noting: It also remains to be seen what the surge of housing construction means for individual home ownership.
- Unlike the housing construction boom of the mid-2000s — which was dominated by single-family construction — current activity is more heavily focused on multi-family buildings.
- An increased supply of apartments on the market should help ease the squeeze on renters at some point. But it won't help would-be homebuyers anxious to get on the property ladder, who are facing short supply right now.