This morning, the Census Bureau told us that 25,000 new homes were sold in October, which, after seasonal adjustment, works out to an annual rate of 307,000. This was up from a seasonally adjusted and downwardly revised (from 313,000) 303,000 in September. According to the first sentence of Derek Kravitz's related report at the Associated Press, this constitutes a "hopeful sign," even though October's number could easily be revised downward, as September's was.
Kravitz went further downhill in his fifth paragraph, descending into flat-out, undeniable falsehood (bold is mine):
Last year's 323,000 new homes sold were the fewest since the government began keeping records in 1963. This year isn't faring much better.
No Derek, this year is worse, as the following graph demonstrates:
Last time I checked, when encountering a situation where an industry is selling fewer items than it was a year ago, it meant that you would characterize it as "faring worse." Through October, new-home sales are down 7.5% from a year ago. To make up that difference in the final two months of 2011, November and December sales will have to beat last year by about 49% (64K in sales needed vs. 43K in sales during November and December 2010). Maybe Derek Kravitz has some inside information the rest of us don't know, but it would appear that the odds of that kind of year-over-year increase happening are in the neighborhood of the odds of the Peyton Manning-deprived Indianapolis Colts making the NFL playoffs.
I would ask for a correction, but I know better. The AP, otherwise known as the Administration's Press, seems to have become so disinterested in the truth that matters such as these are seemingly laughed off. Even if the wire service corrects, it will probably be "mission accomplished" as far as they're concerned, because Kravitz's opening sentence, which will be read on the air by gullible broadcasters around the nation, fabricates a "hopeful sign" which doesn't exist.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.