HousingWire Editor-In-Chief, Sarah Wheeler, sits down with Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, to walk attendees through the latest update on the housing market and share a few predictions for the future along the way.
Here is a small preview of the session, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity:
Sarah Wheeler: Doug, thank you so much for being here. It has been an incredible year for housing, but before we get into the specifics of our industry, I want to get a feel for the larger economic picture. Where are we in terms of recovering from the COVID-19 slowdown of last year, specifically on jobs?
Doug Duncan: We’ve made substantial progress, the unemployment rate has come down dramatically. We’re still a ways off, and you heard the chairman of the Fed say there’s still a million jobs he would like to see recovered. And the bulk of the recovery that remains is in the service sector, which was the hardest sector, that’s hourly wage earners. And typically, they’re not homeowners, they’re more renters. I think the homeownership rate in that space is about 40%, as compared to the national average of around 65%. So that’s why you’re hearing a lot of discussion about eviction notices and things like that, because they tend to be more on the renter. But we’re seeing a pickup in that service sector, like for example, restaurants are almost back to normal levels. According to the OpenTable data, you see the airlines are within 20% of where they were before the COVID. So that’s been picking up. And of course, people are talking about how that goes into inflation, just as companies are recovering pricing that they lost in the course of the downturn. So making good progress. We actually think growth this year will be something like 7%, which we will not have seen since the early 1980s. That’s very good news. For the economy.
- Doug Duncan, SVP & Chief Economist, Fannie Mae
- Sarah Wheeler, Editor in Chief, HousingWire