Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Big cities around the country are finally seeing the bottom for their dropping house prices, according to Zillow, Inc. The only problem is that it isn’t happening in two of our big cities —
Chicago and Cleveland.
Zillow, a real estate forecaster, says it doesn’t expect home prices in either of those two places to bottom out in 2012. That’s even though home prices nationally rose 0.5 percent, according to the Zillow Home Value Index.
Nationally, Zillow says home prices remain 25 percent below their levels in 2007. It doesn’t expect much of an increase in prices nationally this year. You can read a Bloomberg story about the Zillow forecast here.
Chicago and Cleveland are among 11 cities that are still seeing home prices fall. Others are San Francisco, Charlotte, Seattle and Atlanta. Places where home prices are rising include Phoenix and Miami, according to Zillow.
Home values are one of the things that are prompting people to adjust their expectations about the future. Read our Changing Gears Tumblr on Changing Expectations.
New numbers on house prices in the U.S. are out today, and they’re not great. Prices are still falling in most of the 20 cities included in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indeces. Detroit was one of only three cities where prices increased from January 2011 to January 2012. The other two were Denver and Phoenix.
Prices in Chicago, Cleveland and Minneapolis continue to fall. Chicago is down 36 percent compared to its peak in 2006. Cleveland is down 28 percent. Minneapolis is down 35 percent.
Detroit’s numbers may have been a bit brighter over the past year, compared to other Midwest cities in the index, but house prices in Detroit are still far below all other cities in the index. Detroit’s house prices have dropped 46 percent since the peak.
The average decline for the index as a whole is 34 percent.
What do you see where you live? Are prices bottoming out?
House lock has prevented some homeowners from moving for better jobs, but the problem isn’t affecting the nation’s overall unemployment rate in a substantial way.
That’s the conclusion of a study authored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which found scant evidence of a link between geographic immobility and a national unemployment rate that reached 9.2 percent in June. The study was released Wednesday.
Using census data, the economists compared state-to-state migration rates among both homeowners and renters and found neither group had veered from historical recession rates. “We find that homeowner and renter migration rates fell roughly in tandem,” Fed vice president and advisor Daniel Aaronson wrote. “The difference is economically small.”
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Illinois learns from Israel. In a collaborative effort to learn more about green technology, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is traveling to Israel this week for what his staff has called “an educational mission.” Our partner station WBEZ says the governor will visit a company that develops automotive battery chargers and sign a water pact that encourages Illinois and Israel to work jointly on clean-water issues.
2. Median income falls in Michigan. Numbers released from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show the median income for Michigan households plunged by more than $9,000 over the past decade, according to partner station Michigan Radio. Adjusted for inflation, the median income in 2000 was $54,651. By 2009, the amount had fallen to $45,255.
Eventually, the Wisconsin Supreme Court may have the final say over a law that restricts the collective bargaining of public employees. For now, the controversial legislation has been struck down.
A Dane County judge ruled Thursday that Republican lawmakers violated the state’s open meetings act when they passed the bill on March 9. In her 33-page ruling, Judge Maryann Sumi wrote, “transparency in government is most important when the stakes are high.”
Home sales prices have been one of the most watched economic indicators during the Great Recession. So when a new set of numbers came out today, reporters nationwide jumped on the data. Changing Gears noticed a little line in the press release that read “Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, Portland (OR) and Washington D.C. saw improvements in their annual rates of return in February versus January; New York was unchanged.”
Ford Motor Company had a strong first quarter. In fact, the U.S. automaker had its best first quarter earnings in 13 years, reporting net income of $2.6 billion. That comes out to 61 cents per share, far higher than the expected 50 cents per share. Part of Ford’s success is being credited to their new fuel-efficient models, which are proving popular as gas prices climb.
Michigan’s unionized corrections workers make up about 16 percent of the state’s public employees, but they are being asked to give more than half of the $180 million in contract concessions Governor Rick Snyder is seeking from unions.
If you need gas for the Easter holiday, you might want to fuel up now, because prices are supposed to go even higher. The average gas price in Michigan is expected to jump between $4.05 and $4.15 a gallon. As you can see from this picture, gas prices in Chicago are well passed the $4.00 a gallon mark.