Housing, Partisan Problems, & Traffic Fatalities
Week in Review: June 19-23
What this week lacked in traditional economic data releases, it made up for in unusual reports like pedestrian traffic fatalities, a Pew survey on partisan differences in assessing national problems, and the American Time Use Survey.
Juneteenth, which marks the order proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, is our newest federal holiday but one that just 42% of Americans (and 13% of republicans) support. I think Juneteenth is a worthy day off and, broadly, think we should have more federal holidays. In the age of 24/7 email access, a holiday doesn’t feel like a day off unless everyone else is off too. Federal holidays help solve this coordination problem.
The most likely candidates for our next (and twelfth) federal holiday seem to be either September 11 Day of Remembrance or Gold Star Families Day, which would recognize the families of those who die during military service on the last Monday in September.
NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Marking Index
Homebuilder confidence increased in June and is now at the highest level since last July. All three components (single family sales present, SF sales next six months, and traffic of prospective buyers) improved for the month, and the outlook for sales over the next six months is as optimistic as it’s been in over a year.
Gas prices inched lower during the week ending June 19th and are $1.38 cheaper per gallon than one year ago.
TSA Checkpoint Travel Numbers
The number of people passing through TSA security during the week ending June 20th was less than 1% below 2019 levels. Summer travel is heating up—Friday June 16th saw the most daily passengers since before the pandemic.
Pew Poll on Partisan Differences Assessing National Problems
Pew asks people what they consider a “very big problem,” and respondents were most concerned about inflation and least concerned about unemployment. That checks out with the data.
As always, there was a big spread between democrats’ and republicans’ responses. For instance, republicans think violent crime is a bigger issue than gun violence, while the opposite is true for democrats. The one topic the parties agreed on? Their inability to work together.
Comparing the responses from 2023 (above) to the responses from 2022 (below), concern over healthcare affordability increased over the past year while concern over climate change declined. The share of respondents who say gun violence is a very big problem increased pretty sharply, from 27% in 2022 to 38% in 2023 for republicans and from 70% to 81% for democrats. There was also a bipartisan increase in concern over K-12 schools.
Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities
More than 7,500 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2022, the most in any year since 1981 according to this GHSA report. This is up from just 4,300 pedestrian fatalities in 2010. Speeding is partly to blame for the increase (according to the report), but it doesn’t explain the persistent rise over the past decade. The increased prevalence of SUVs (which are big and heavy) and EVs (which are heavy whether they’re big or not, accelerate really quickly, and are quiet) also has to play a part here.
Anyway. Look both ways before crossing.
New Residential Construction (Permits, Starts, & More)
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