Meanwhile, back on Main Street (Part III)…

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Yesterday we talked about existing-home sales. Today, some grim figures from the Commerce Department about new construction: new home sales fell by 11.5% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 460,000, the slowest pace since January 1991. What’s particularly worrisome is that after dropping slightly last month, inventory is back up to a 10.9 month supply. Which would explain why the median price of a new home sold dropped by 5.5% from July, to $221,900. If you look at average prices, the drop was 11.8%—a record. Seems like a great time to buy a house. Seriously. Please go buy a house.

Oh, and initial unemployment claims are up, too. The Department of Labor reports first-time claims were up a seasonally adjusted 32,000 to 493,000 for the third week of September, the most since the post-Sept. 11 surge. About 50,000 of those, though, are related to claims from Louisiana and Texas in the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Not that the economy can tell the difference.