Down is up
Today the headline is: National foreclosures up, Pittsburgh's fall
Pittsburgh's Fall? Nationwide foreclosures up 112% affecting nearly every region of the country. Yet the comparable metric for Pittsburgh foreclosures are DOWN 9%. The "flood" of foreclosures is from a stat that foreclosures here are up 6.9% in the last quarter. Even if that is the best number, does it really constitute a flood compared to the national trend which really is up 112%. and that is a national aggregate, given the regions like Pittsburgh that are well below 112% no matter how you count, there must be regions far far above 112%.
Why the difference? PBT quotes one explanation that the falling number for Pittsburgh is because it "includes outlying counties such as Lawrence, Greene and Fayette." (update: the quote has been changed online and no longer mentions Lawrence or Greene, also the headline has been shortened.. I think the point is the same in the end). I doubt that because Lawrence and Greene are a) not in the Pittsburgh MSA to begin with and b) those counties are so small compared to the region that their inclusion can't make that much of a difference.
Why do I harp on this? Clearly there are real issues in the economy these days. Problems here, problems elsewhere. But getting people confused about the state of the local housing market can only lead to bad decisions. I bet if we did a survey of folks locally, they would not know there was any difference between the headlines in the national news and what is happening on the ground locally. Probably true for lots of things, but in the case of housing the discordance is really extreme. There is plenty to be fearful of financially all around, why fear monger where it isn't needed. Here is a quote from another national report that just came out:
Pittsburgh continues to rank as one of the nation's most stable residential real estate markets, according to a recent study.That was from a couple weeks ago.. yet it also got little play compared to the stories in the press about the big (6.9%) increase in foreclosures.
If you read the state's press release that came out today on the current employment situation in the region there is an interesting sentence explaining strength in the retail sector:
General merchandise stores experienced record March growth due to a new Walmart opening, an existing Walmart expanding, and many stores opening their garden centers for the spring.Which is just an excuse to plug in one of the coolest economic info graphics out there showing the growth of Walmart. If you can run it, the wmv file is clearer, but the YouTube version is: