Fed: Housing Helping Economic Growth

July 18, 2013

The recovering housing market is partially responsible for spurring economic growth, according to a recent Federal Reserve report. Eleven of the 12 districts included in the Fed survey say they are experiencing “modest to moderate” economic growth, while the 12th district, Dallas, reports “strong” growth. 

“Residential real estate and construction activity increased at a moderate to strong pace in all reporting districts,” the Fed said in its Beige Book, which is based on anecdotal reports from 12 regional banks. “Manufacturing expanded in most districts since the previous report.”

Housing construction and home prices have shown improvement in the past year, the Fed notes. Consumer spending also has increased, and hiring is holding steady in most areas. The housing recovery has also led to a rise in the production of lumber, materials, and construction equipment, the Fed notes. 

"Housing activity and prices seem likely to continue to recover, notwithstanding the recent increases in mortgage rates, but it will be important to monitor developments in this sector carefully," said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in testimony Wednesday before lawmakers. The Fed has made moves in recent years through a bond purchases program that has helped to keep mortgage rates near historical lows. Rates have been rising in recent weeks as the Fed announced that it would be scaling back its program later this year.

Source: “Fed Survey Shows Growth Mostly Modest Across U.S.,” The Associated Press (July 17, 2013) and “Housing Starts Fall to 10-Month Low,” Reuters (July 17, 2013)