Housing Outlook Improves – Local Media Agrees

Sales of previously owned homes rose across the country during the third quarter, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors.

Nationally, sales were up 5.9 percent from the third quarter of last year. Previously owned homes changed hands at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.3 million, according to the report. NAR attributed much of the jump to continued affordable prices and a federal income tax credit. Congress and President Obama legislated an extension and expansion of the tax credit program last week.

Home sales rose in 32 states and Washington, D.C., from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter this year. Sales jumped in 45 states, and in Washington, D.C., from the second to the third quarter.

There was no lack of media enthusiasm for the news on Tuesday as local media outlets across the country finally picked up on the good news…

1. Home sales up nearly 79.6% in October in Orlando

2. Pittsburgh home prices rise in third quarter

3. US Home Sales Rise to Two-Year High

4. Home prices seen stabilizing in North Jersey

5. NJ homes sales jump 11 percent in quarter

6. DC Area housing sales jump

7. Las Vegas Home Sales On The Rise

8. Florida home sales up for fifth straight quarter

9. Houston-area home prices rise in third quarter

10. Ohio home sales rose during the third quarter

11. Nashville home sales climb first time in three years

12. Lehigh Valley home sales rise 30 percent in October

13. Illinois Third Quarter Home Sales a Bright Spot in 2009

14. Home Prices Are Suddenly Hot in Some Areas…

Back in June we pointed out a dozen housing markets that were showing pricing improvement. August revealed a dozen more.

While some year over year comparisons continue to show price erosion recent jumps in the national S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index further clarifies that the price drops of the past few years are now over. The 20-city index is now consistently rising quarter-over-quarter.

Three independent sources, the National Association of Realtors, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Case Shiller are now all showing housing price improvement.

Repeatedly we’ve said that the strength of this recovery will be measured in part by how well the housing industry fares. Tuesday was further strong evidence that this recovery continues unabated.

Minimum Wage and Obesity

David O. Meltzer and Zhuo Chen explored the relationship between minimum wage rate in the U.S and body weight (link):

“Growing consumption of increasingly less expensive food, and especially “fast food”, has been cited as a potential cause of increasing rate of obesity in the United States over the past several decades. Because the real minimum wage in the United States has declined by as much as half over 1968-2007 and because minimum wage labor is a major contributor to the cost of food away from home we hypothesized that changes in the minimum wage would be associated with changes in bodyweight over this period. To examine this, we use data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1984-2006 to test whether variation in the real minimum wage was associated with changes in body mass index (BMI). We also examine whether this association varied by gender, education and income, and used quantile regression to test whether the association varied over the BMI distribution. We also estimate the fraction of the increase in BMI since 1970 attributable to minimum wage declines. We find that a $1 decrease in the real minimum wage was associated with a 0.06 increase in BMI. This relationship was significant across gender and income groups and largest among the highest percentiles of the BMI distribution. Real minimum wage decreases can explain 10% of the change in BMI since 1970. We conclude that the declining real minimum wage rates has contributed to the increasing rate of overweight and obesity in the United States. Studies to clarify the mechanism by which minimum wages may affect obesity might help determine appropriate policy responses.”

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