Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Home Builders Hit The Hill

Washington, D.C. - On Wednesday, 1,300 home builders will call on Capitol Hill as part of a legislative conference organized by their trade group, the National Association of Home Builders. They'll do so against a grim industry backdrop.
"For the first summer in many summers, we're not helping to keep unemployment numbers down," says Jerry M. Howard, 51, the NAHB's chief executive. "For the first time in six years, we are a drag on the economy rather than a plus."
Publicly held home-building companies have weighed on the stock market too. Consider the table below, which lists the 10 biggest U.S. home builders by latest-12-month revenues. On average, the group shares have dropped 12% year-to-date, versus a 9% gain for the S&P 500.
Fittingly, Howard is sending his troops out to congressional offices with a simple, overarching message: Don't kick us when we're down.
"Our strategy is to remind policymakers of our importance in economic and societal terms," he says, "and to convince them to take no action that would exacerbate this downturn in the housing industry."
One area of potential exacerbation: immigration. The NAHB has come out strongly against the proposed immigration overhaul now being considered by the U.S. Senate, particularly its portions cracking down on employers that hire illegal workers, directly or through subcontractors.