February 16, 2005


It's just anecdotal, but the summary in the WSJ caught my political eye: "Housing starts rose 4.7% in January to the highest level in nearly 21 years as booming activity in the South offset the effects of soggy, stormy weather elsewhere."

WSJ.com - Housing Starts Jump 4.7%, Bucking Forecast for Drop

Stormy, snowy weather in the Northeast and Midwest and heavy rain in the West had been expected to put a damper on building activity -- and indeed, starts did decline in the Northeast and Midwest. Analysts expecting a slowdown pointed to the government's recent report on payroll employment that showed the U.S. construction indudtry shed 9,000 jobs last month.

But robust activity in the South offset the declines in other regions. Starts climbed 19% in the South to 1.139 million units -- the region's highest level since February 1984's 1.187 million. Housing starts in the South accounted for more than half of the nation's building activity last month. Meanwhile, new construction fell 24% to 150,000 in the Northeast and 13% to 330,000 in the Midwest. Builders in the West broke ground on around 540,000 new homes, a 1.9% increase.

Ummm, isn't that a signal of more than expected growth for the most GOP dominated part of the country? Already, as Joel Kotkin writes in the Weekly Standard, folks are moving out of the Euro-cities to Cities of Aspiration
What differentiates these two Americas is not so much politics, but perspective on the future. Cities of aspiration like Reno accommodate job growth and attract young families who hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.
They offer an environment that most of our forebears--wherever they might be from--would recognize as distinctly American. In the places people are leaving, what might be called Euro-America, the focus is on preserving older urban forms, cultivating refinement, and following continental norms in attitude, politics, and lifestyle.

Right now the demographic, economic, and political momentum belongs to the aspirational cities, places like Reno, Boise, Orlando, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City. They attract the most new migrants from other parts of the country, and an increasing number of immigrants from abroad. They have experienced some of the nation's sharpest increases in their numbers of new families.

Demographics definitely favors the red states; the WSJ article makes me wonder if it's not more pronounced than previously thought.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at February 16, 2005 3:16 PM

I wonder, how many of those "housing starts" in the South can be attributed to rebuilding from the most recent hurricane season?

Not that I disagree with your basic premise, however.

Posted by: johngalt at February 16, 2005 3:24 PM | What do you think? [1]