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TABLE 3.-Index numbers of wholesale prices by special groups of commodities
Weekly changes in wholesale prices by groups of commodities during October and November 1946 are shown by the index numbers in table 4. These indexes are not averaged to obtain an index for the month but are computed only to indicate the fluctuations from week to week.
TABLE 4.-Weekly index numbers of wholesale prices by commodity groups," October and November 1946
Construction Activity, October-December 1946
Progress in home building.-Completion of over 55,000 new permanent nonfarm homes in November set a new high for 1946 in the number of dwellings made ready for occupancy in any one month. It was the first month in 1946 that completions exceeded new units started. The upward trend in completions, together with a drop in starts, resulted in the first monthly decrease since the beginning of the veterans' housing program in the number of homes under construction. By the end of November 361,000 new permanent homes were being built, compared with 366,400 by October's end. There probably will be further reductions during the next few months in the backlog of units under construction, since a better flow of materials to the job site is expected, and it may be possible, therefore, to rush to completion the great volume of dwellings now in the final building stages.
New permanent dwellings started during the month, according to a revised estimate, totaled 49,700, all of which were privately financed. While this was about 8,000 below the number started in October, it was still the highest November figure reported in the past 18 years. More permanent homes were begun with private funds in the first 11 months of 1946 (622,300) than in any entire year since the building boom of the twenties.
Two out of every three family dwelling units (or equivalents) begun and completed during the veterans' emergency housing program are of the permanent type. Other types of housing covered by the program are units created through conversion of existing structures, trailers, dormitories, and temporary re-use accommodations. During October, however, when the temporary re-use program had almost come to a close, permanent housing accounted for seven-tenths of all housing accommodations started, and by November the proportion had increased to eight-tenths.
Among the 10 cities which led in the number of new permanent family dwellings begun or scheduled to begin in November were San Mateo, a suburb of San Francisco (283 units), and Pomona, a suburb of Los Angeles (418 units). Los Angeles itself and New York were the two leading cities, with over a thousand units each.
Employment on the site of new residential construction dropped by 40,000 workers during November to a total of 581,000. There was a slight decline also in expenditures for new home construction, from 393 million dollars to 383 million dollars. The entire 10million-dollar decrease was in privately financed building. Preliminary estimates indicate that more dollars (34 billion) were spent for building new houses during the first 11 months of 1946 than in the comparable period of any year since 1928.
TABLE 1.—Estimated number of family-dwelling units or equivalent living accommodations started and completed in nonfarm areas, January-November 1946 1
* Includes 8,027 permanent units started by New York City Housing Authority, and 34,500 prefabricated units (National Housing Agency estimate).
¡Covers 55,200 privately financed converted units; 193,500 Federal (Mead-Lanham temporary housing program) units (151,300 family dwellings and 42,200 dormitory equivalents-Federal Public Housing estimates); 41,900 trailers (Bureau of the Census); and 26,000 family and dormitory equivalent units financed by various State and local public bodies and educational institutions. These units are not included under the Federal Mead-Lanham temporary housing program. A small proportion of new permanent units provided in the local emergency program, now included under "Other," will be shown for all months in the column for new permanent housing in future publications of this table.
Break-down not available for conventional and prefabricated units.
Covers 54,700 conversion units, 83,300 re-use units, 41,900 trailers, and 8,600 local emergency units. A small proportion of new permanent units provided in the local emergency program, now included under "Other," will be shown in the column for new permanent housing in future publications of this table.
Recent developments.-On December 14, 1946, the President announced drastic reduction in the remaining restrictions on home building. As a result of a conference with his new economic and housing advisers,' it was decided (1) to open new home building to anyone,
1 After resignation of Wilson Wyatt December 5, 1946, Frank R. Creedon, formerly CPA Deputy Administrator, was appointed Housing Expediter, and Raymond M. Foley, Federal Housing Administrator, was appointed Administrator of the National Housing Agency. Wilson Wyatt had held both of these posts. In addition, on December 12, Mr. Truman abolished the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, the Office of Price Administration, the Civilian Production Administration, the Wage Stabilization Board, and the Economic Stabilization Board, and assigned most remaining functions, including rent control and building regulations, to a new Office of Temporary Controls. General Philip B. Fleming was named head of the new office, retaining his position also as Federal Works Administrator.
veteran or nonveteran, who wished to build a year-round house of certain restricted floor area for his own occupancy, (2) to discard the $10,000 ceiling on the sales price of new houses, (3) to discontinue priorities for obtaining scarce materials, (4) to permit builders to construct rental units to average $80 per month rental per project, as compared with the maximum limit of $80 stipulated under former regulations, (5) to increase the $35,000,000 weekly limit on nonresidential building, and (6) to emphasize provision of rental housing in 1947.
Building priorities were formally discontinued on December 24, and a building permit system was established instead. The permit system provides that builders secure permission from the National Housing Agency for new residential building which meets announced requirements of year-round occupancy, and stipulated maximum floor area and rental price. Limitation of nonresidential building is continued under the Office of Temporary Controls, and permission to undertake such work, unless specifically exempted, must be secured from that office.
Total Construction Activity
Construction expenditures declined in December 1946 for the third successive month, but were still over a billion dollars, according to preliminary estimates. December expenditures of $1,065,000,000 were 86 million dollars below the November figure but almost twice the amount spent in the same month a year ago. Privately financed public utilities projects, which reached 82 million dollars, mostly because of expanded building programs of telephone and telegraph companies, were the only type of construction which did not decrease in dollar volume during the month. On the other hand, private new residential building in nonfarm areas and public highway construction accounted for almost half the over-all drop, each having declined 20 million dollars, to 300 million and 75 million dollars, respectively. Private expenditures for new industrial buildings, which had been rising continuously since the second quarter of 1944, dipped slightly in December to 169 million dollars; commercial building fell from 87 million to 79 million dollars.
The dollar volume of construction put in place during the entire year of 1946 totaled almost 12 billion dollars-the most spent in any year since 1942. In addition, 1946 brought the greatest annual expenditure in the country's history of private dollars (3.4 billion) for new nonresidential building. Approximately the same amount was spent for private new home construction, which was exceeded only in the years 1923-28.
* See footnote 1 on preceding page.
Employment on construction followed the same general down trend in December, dropping by 150,000 workers to 1,915,000. Peak employment for the year 1946 (2,308,000) was reached in August, and was greater than in any month since the height of the war construction program in the summer of 1942.
TABLE 2.-Estimated construction employment in the United States, selected months of 1945 and 1946
Estimates include wage earners, salaried employees, and special trades contractors actively engaged on new construction, additions and alterations, and on repair work of the type usually covered by building permits, whether performed under contract or by force-account. (Force-account employees are workers tired directly by the owner and utilized as a separate work force to perform construction work of the type usually chargeable to capital account.) These figures should not be confused with those included in the Bureau's nonagricultural employment series, which covers only employees of construction contractors and Federal force-account workers, and excludes force-account workers of State and local governments, public utilities, and private firms.
Includes the following force-account employees hired directly by the Federal Government: December 145, 18,200; October 1946, 21,100; November 1946, 20,000; December 1946, 19,000.
Mainly airports, water and sewer systems, and electrification projects.
Includes community buildings, water supply and sewage disposal projects, and miscellaneous public service enterprises.