Word of mouth from landscape companies, personal observations and numerous news stories indicate the economy is improving. That means better times ahead for the horticulture industries. Here is a sample of the evidence.
Watching the traffic coming down to Manatee from Tampa each morning tell me things are changing. Two years ago, there were virtually NO contractor or building supply trucks to be seen. No concrete trucks, no flatbeds carrying building materials, etc. Recently I’ve seen many different kinds of contractor vehicles, concrete trucks, flatbeds carrying trussed, pavers, lumber, etc.
A number of news stories concerning the economy have caught my eye recently. All these reports have both good and bad news. In my opinion, the bad news appears mostly temporary. The good news shows more continuing and long-lasting trends.
Here’s one from the Washington Post (http://ow.ly/h8J1E):
On Thursday, the Department of Labor reported that the number of new people filing for unemployment benefits fell to just 330,000, a huge drop from the previous week and a new five-year low. This is usually a good indicator of the state of the labor market, so that’s a healthy sign. What’s more, initial jobless claims have been dropping far faster than economists have expected all January.
Here’s one from Bloomberg (http://ow.ly/h8HJJ). It says new home sales are growing:
The real-estate agents’ report in the U.S. showed a total of 4.65 million homes were sold last year, up 9.2 percent from 4.26 million in 2011 and the most since 2007. The annual advance was the biggest since 2004.
The supply of existing homes is dropping:
The number of previously owned homes on the market dropped to 1.82 million, the fewest since January 2001, according to today’s report.
A shrinking supply of existing homes is causing prices to rise:
The median price of an existing home rose to $176,600 last year, up 6.3 percent from 2011. It was the biggest year-over- year gain since a 12.1 percent jump in 2005.
Stuart Miller, chief executive officer of Lennar Corp. (LEN), the largest U.S. homebuilder, says:
“After seven years of navigating an unprecedented market downturn, we finally saw stabilization and recovery [in the housing market] in 2012,” “While there have been and still are economic and political uncertainties ahead, we feel that this housing recovery is fundamentally based and driven by a long-term demographic need for housing,” Miller said. “2012, therefore, we believe is just the beginning of the recovery.”
Why is this good news for the horticulture industries?
More people are finding jobs, more people are buying homes, more people have extra money to fix up and landscape their homes and to pay for landscape maintenance.