12 markets where the economy shows improvement

Hand holding picture of house against landscape

The National Association of Home Builders has come up with a new index that shows there are 12 local markets in the United States where housing and job markets are improving.

To get on the list, a metro area had to have job growth and increased housing prices and building permits for at least six months following its low point or trough.

Here’s where things are looking up:

Alexandria, La.: Saw 3.8% job growth from its low point, 3.2% increase in housing prices and 4.1% increase in building permits.

Anchorage, Alaska: Saw 2.5% job growth, 0.7% increase in housing prices and 3.6% increase in building permits.

Bangor, Maine: Saw 2.6% job growth, 2.8% increase in housing prices and 2.1% increase in building permits.

Bismarck, N.D.: Saw 5.3% job growth, 5.7% increase in housing prices and 14.5% increase in building permits.

Casper, Wyo.: Saw 5.3% job growth, 1.9% increase in housing prices and 3.0% increase in building permits.

Fairbanks, Alaska: Saw 3.2% job growth, 2.3% increase in housing prices and 0.4% increase in building permits.

Fayetteville, N.C.: Saw 2.5% job growth, 1.6% increase in housing prices and 0.2% increase in building permits.

Houma, La.: Saw 5.0% job growth, 1.9% increase in housing prices and 1.5% increase in building permits.

Midland, Texas: Saw 7.1% job growth, 3.5% increase in housing prices and 5.8% increase in building permits.

New Orleans: Saw 2.6% job growth, 0.9% increase in housing prices and 3.2% increase in building permits.

Pittsburgh: Saw 2.3% job growth, 2.5% increase in housing prices and 1.8% increase in building permits.

Waco, Texas: Saw 3.8% job growth, 3.2% increase in housing prices and 4.1% increase in building permits.

The index uses employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Lest you think 12 isn’t such a big number, consider what NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe says: "Last year at this time, there was not a single market that showed improvement using these criteria, and now we can point to 12 examples of growth."

If your local economy isn’t booming, check below your feet.

Energy production and distribution was the key to economic health in many of the markets doing well.

"It’s not surprising that many of the states represented are energy-rich areas," Crowe says. "Those are the regions still experiencing relatively strong employment, supporting housing demand."

You’d think the newspapers published in those 12 communities would be trumpeting the happy news.

Not so much.

The Alaska Journal of Commerce pointed out that the market in Fairbanks never really got bad.

The Fayetteville Observer quoted a home builder who concluded: "We might not be as confident as the index says we should be, but relative to the rest of the country we're still faring better."

In today’s economy, sometimes not being awful is good enough.

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