Lord have mercy, these people are looking anywhere and everywhere to turn an economic improvement molehill into something that sort of looks like a mountain.
Today, the headline to Derek Kravitz's report at the Associated Press ("Rise in home construction suggests a turnaround") reasonably reflected the underlying reality reported by the Census Bureau, but his first six paragraphs most definitely did not:
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The depressed housing market has held the economy back for four years.
Home construction has finally begun a gradual comeback and should add to the nation's economic growth in 2011, a turning point in the recovery from the Great Recession.
The main reason appears to be a positive consequence of the weak economy: Apartments are being built almost twice as fast as two years ago. Renting is the only option for many people who have lost their jobs, their homes or both.
Builders in November broke ground on homes - houses and apartments alike - at an annual rate of 685,000, the government said Tuesday. That was a 9.3 percent jump from October and the fastest pace since April 2010.
The numbers show how far the housing industry has come and still has to go ...
Well Derek, let me present all of the numbers, and we'll let readers decide "how far the housing industry has come and still has to go":
A better description of today's news would be that it's the teeny, tiny start of a very long climb up a very steep hill. And of course, there's one key word relating to who's responsible for the drawn-out nature of the housing downturn which is nowhere to be found in Kravitz's report: Obama.
Given the change in the housing mix, Kravitz and the AP really ought to consider reformulating the following boilerplate which has appeared for months on end, including today's item:
Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
That's probably true of single-family homes, but it certainly isn't true of multi-unit dwellings, nor is the per-unit multi-unit impact on the home-improvement business anywhere near as significant as that of a typical single-family home.
It's going to be more than a little maddening during the coming year watching the press herald every little improvement in housing as if it's the harbinger of a great big historic turnaround -- which is why yours truly will continue to do monthly dissections of all of the numbers and provide the necessary historical context.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.