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Atlanta Job and Housing Growth Blossoming, But Is Everybody Benefitting?

o-ATLANTA-TRAFFIC-facebookAtlanta grew last year in housing purchases and new jobs, and the projections for the capital of the South are just as bright for 2015.

That’s what a new report from MetroStudy Corp., the residential real estate research firm, indicates, according to the Atlanta Business Journal.

In fact, the city set a record for new jobs last year—but the number was partially offset by the region’s popularity attracting an influx of new residents, meaning there wasn’t a major drop in unemployment.

But all the optimism contained in these dry statistics and economic indicators raises a crucial question: Is the entire population benefitting from the record-setting pace of new jobs and all the new construction springing up in many parts of the city? The city is 53 percent Black, but it’s clear that much of the construction is occurring in predominantly white areas.

So all the optimism must be tempered when the city is looked at from the perspective of a low-income Black resident.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, the Atlanta Housing Report found net jobs in Atlanta through December 2014 increased by 67,400 positions, up 2.6 percent compared to last year. Atlanta ended the year as the No. 8 most populous MSA (metropolitan statistical area) in the country, No. 7 for job growth and No. 3 for single family building permits. Foreclosure activity has hit a twelve-year low and resale inventory remains low.

In sum, the viable metrics point toward stronger housing growth for 2015.

“There were 73,099 single family detached used and REO (real-estate ownedd) properties sold over the past 12 months ending in 4Q 2014,” Eugene James, regional director for Metrostudy, said in a statement, adding that 21 percent of these closings were REO sales (one year ago it was 25 percent). The fourth quarter 2014 median sales price was $166,900, 11 percent above the year over year median sale price of $150,000.”

James added pre-foreclosure activity continues to decline and is at a twelve year low, resulting in fewer foreclosed homes and additional upward pressure on home prices.

“December single- family listings moved upwards by 9 percent year-over-year to 15,700 but the months supply remains very low (and declined this quarter) to 3.8 months,” James said. “Equilibrium or a normal month’s supply of resale inventory for the region is about 6 months. The difficulty of finding a replacement home is keeping some people from listing their existing home.”

Additionally, the Atlanta region saw annual construction starts increase by 18 percent to 16,437 and new home closings increased by 23 percent to 14,806 units closed.

“The Atlanta metro area is creating jobs at a healthy pace, up 2.6 percent year-over-year and has averaged above 2.3 percent growth for the past two years,” James said. “With 2.51 million people now employed, Atlanta has set a new record for total people employed.”

James said despite good job growth, unemployment was relatively high due to migration into the region thus expanding the labor force faster than the economy could absorb.

“But solid job growth has spurred consumer confidence which is helping to move the housing market toward a stronger recovery,” he added. “2015 should be another good year for housing in the Atlanta region.”

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