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Freddie Mac says unemployment getting in the way of robust growth, despite housing gains

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Freddie Mac released its economic and housing market outlook for April on Wednesday, and the news was good and not so good. Despite an ongoing housing recovery and gains in construction jobs, the report says the country’s 7.6 percent unemployment rate is preventing robust economic growth.

On the positive side, the outlook said housing starts were up 47 percent from March 2012 to March 2013, passing 1 million starts for the first time in nearly five years. Freddie Mac, a government-supported mortgage finance giant based in McLean, expects that the total number of homes being built this year will come in at the fastest pace since 2007.

The pace of construction job growth also has been tracking up in recent months. During the past year, Freddie Mac said net construction job growth represented 8 percent of all job gains, while in the last six months it represented 15 percent.

Yet while construction is showing signs of life, “Until aggregate unemployment decreases substantially, we will not experience robust growth,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

Freddie Mac compiles data on major economic, housing and mortgage market indicators and offers forecasts based on those indicators.


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