AP Bitterly Clings to 'Worst New-Home Sales Market in Nearly 50 Years' Meme; It's Really Worst Since WWII

In an unbylined report this morning on homebuilders' continued pessimism, the Associated Press continues to mislead its readers and other news consumers about just how bad the market for new homes has been during the past two years.

The government has been reporting new home sales since 1963. The 320,000 news homes sold in 2010, which followed sales of only 375,000 in 2009, are the two worst performances on record. But that does not mean that they are the two worst performances in nearly a half-century, as AP continues to insist, as seen below:

APonHomebuilderSentimentAndSales051611

There they go again.

For AP to claim that 2009 and 2010 were the worst years in almost a half-century, it would need to show that some year during the early 1960s came in with sales of less than 320,000. It can't. The Census Bureau's related info shows that total annual sales were over 550,000 during each of the first three years it tracked. It has no proof that any year prior to 1963 had sales as low as 2009 or 2010. Further, the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959, and those numbers are well above where they need to be to prove that annual sales from 1959-1962 were way about 2009 and 2010.

Additionally, for the AP to correctly defend its claim that 2009 and 2010 were the "worst" years in nearly a half-century instead of since World War II, it would need to show that sales of new homes were lower on a population-adjusted basis. Sticking to very round numbers, the AP would have to find:

  • A year during the last half of the 1940s where sales were less than 150,000.
  • A year during the first half of the 1950s where sales were less than 175,000.
  • A year during the last half of the 1950s where sales were less than 200,000.

That's not going to happen. As I demonstrated late last year, there is no reasonable doubt that 2009 and 2010 were the worst years for new home sales since World War II.

When will the Associated Press stop misleading news consumers about the true extent of the historically disastrous conditions in today's housing market?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.