The National Association of Home Builders’ monthly confidence index dropped two points to a reading of 82 in March. This was the index’s lowest reading since August. Index readings over 50 are a sign of improving confidence. The index had fallen below 50 in April and May in the immediate wake of the onset of the pandemic. Builder confidence peaked at a level of 90 last November and has trended lower as housing affordability has declined.
Industrial output fell sharply in February as severe winter storms battered much of the country, disrupting a wide range of manufacturing activities from autos to chemical plants. The expectation is that the drop will be temporary although there are concerns about growing global supply chain problems. The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that industrial production fell 2.2% in February, reflecting a big decline in output at factories and oil and gas refineries.
Oregon added 13,900 jobs last month, nearly twice as many as it gained in January, but the jobless rate remains stubbornly high. Unemployment was 6.1% in February, according to new data from the Oregon Employment Department. That’s on par with the national rate and down just a tenth of a percentage point from January. While the jobless rate has fallen for 10 straight months, the rate of improvement has slowed to a crawl over the past three months.