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Anti-MH Bigotry, Prejudice, and Possibly Illegal Action on Display in Manufactured Housing’s Birthplace?

September 24th, 2018 Comments off

 

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Indiana in many ways was the ‘birthplace’ of the RV and MH industries. Recreational vehicle (RV) production is still robust in Indiana.

 

Manufactured homes are still built in Indiana too.  But production of manufactured homes has become more diversified.  States like Texas and Alabama far outproduce Indiana.  Oddly – given the industry’s deep history in the state – manufactured housing is often met with resistance and disdain by local jurisdictions, in the very state where the industry was ‘born.’

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Against that backdrop is a recent report from Washington, IN.  The town of some 12,000 is located in the southern part of the state. Their city council is working on an ordinance that targets manufactured homes (MH), which local media and public officials are inaccurately calling ‘trailers’ or ‘mobile homes.’

TrailerHouseMobileHomeManufacturedHomeFactoryBuiltHousingEvolution101MHProNews-MHLivingNews

You must meet people where they are. Terminology must be taught and caught. Make a habit of using the correct terminology.

There are reportedly two ordinances involved:

  • One required that manufactured homes be placed in land-lease communities, which could be a violation of property rights, and one-or- more federal laws.
  • Another ordinance that would target rental housing that uses manufactured homes.

We have received some concern from the Board of Zoning Appeals and the city Plan Commission about dilapidated trailers1 in the city,” said Mayor Joe Wellman, per the local Washington Times Herald. “Not so much those that are owner-occupied but those that become rental trailers1 and deteriorate rapidly.”

We’ll grandfather in trailers1 that are rentals at the end of the year,” the town’s mayor said. “After that each time a tenant moves out, in order to continue to keep that trailer1 there, would require an occupancy inspection and a certificate for occupancy.”

There is a sizable problem with rental trailers1,” said Mayor Wellman. “I don’t think we have a definitive number, but the number thrown out indicates at least a couple of hundred rental trailers1 in the city.”

We passed an ordinance about a year ago that if you bring one in it needs to go into a mobile home1 park,” stated Wellman. “The city is trying to be cognizant there are some that are owner-occupied that are in good shape.”

I would say, even if they are rentals, and the owner keeps the place up and makes it a good, safe place to live they will be able to rent them,” opined Washington, Indiana’s Mayor Wellman. “It will just require an inspection and certificate of occupancy.”

Local media said that the ordinance will be up for adoption at Monday night’s city council meeting.

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Numerous Potential Legal Issues Mayor Wellman, Ordinance(s) Have Raised

There are several potential issues that this raises.  The tone of the comments could reflect a bigotry or prejudice against manufactured homes and/or their occupants.

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There is no similar description of conventional housing in the local news report.

MHProNews has already and plans to further contact association, attorneys, and other officials – including, but not limited to – the town of Washington, IN, and at the federal level.  Stay tuned. See related reports, linked below. “We Provide, You Decide.” ©  ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

1.    Terminology error – the word ‘trailer’ is in the original. It is unclear from the article if these are mobile homes, post-HUD Code manufactured homes, or a combination of both.

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Related Reports:

Manufactured Home Communities, Retailers, Developers Face Disruptive, Troubling Trend

Two Great Laws Already on the Books NOW,  Can Unlock Billion$ Annually for Manufactured Housing Industry Businesse$, Investor$

McCrory Lawsuit – “Significant Victory Against Zoning Discrimination” – Manufactured Homes

Emily Goode vs City of Richland, Mississippi

Winners and Losers, 5 Midwestern States, Manufactured Home Shipment Breakdown

July 9th, 2018 Comments off

 

NewManufacturedHomeSales5MidwesternStatesWinnersandLosers

“…Check out Michigan numbers. They are declining but the retail market is strong. Less rental purchases.”

The above was part of a series of off-the-record messages from a HUD Code home production center that ships into the Midwestern states.  There were several topics, but this one – which came from a Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member company – was focused on concerns that manufactured housing was still hitting new home shipment headwinds.

Further, the new home shipments don’t closely reflect new home sales, as would have been true 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

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In another message from a different source was a related news tip from a Daily Business News reader.

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It appears to be a scan or photos of two charts, which MHProNews has added its logo and fair use notice to, after-the-fact.  The spot-checked data appears to be accurate.

ConstructionofModestsizedHomesRemainsLimitedHarvardJCHS2018ManufacturedModularHousingDailyBuisnessNewsMHPronEws

The only JCHS graphic that specifically mentions manufactured housing.  To see the related report, click here, the image above, or the related report below.

How can it be that during a growing affordable housing crisis, that manufactured home shipments are declining anywhere in the U.S.?

But as the Daily Business News has exclusively reported on prior occasions, rises in new home shipments to states such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Alabama are masking the decline, modest growth or essentially flat sales in some 1½ dozen other states, per the last review, shown in the linked article below.

While Manufactured Housing Overall Rises, Some Slip Sliding Away

 

The Troubling Trend report, which is linked below and can be read later for greater depth of understanding on the topic, spotlights how several industry professionals in operations of all sizes are telling MHProNews that rental shipments into communities are another ‘mask’ for essentially flat manufactured home sales.

Manufactured Home Communities, Retailers, Developers Face Disruptive, Troubling Trend

While shipments have been steadily rising for years, producers from among MHI and MHARR member companies have told MHProNews that they feel concerns about what could happen in 3 to 5 years, if the underlying cause for these trends aren’t addressed.

It is worth noting that Ohio has risen significantly.  This is true, even though that state went through a bruising media battle with their governor and politicos that wrenched away their state commission that oversaw manufactured housing installations.

That state association took pro-active steps to address the mainstream media, and this trade media, in disputing the claims. While they didn’t succeed in their quest, all the apparently negative publicity did not negatively impact their shipments. Why?  Could it be that the routine push-back by the Ohio state association helped attract new customers that may not have come otherwise?  “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Related Reports:

Manufactured Home Shipments, State by State Breakdown, May 2018 Official HUD Data

Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies 2018 – Affordability, Manufactured Homes, and Modular Housing Report

“Why Advocates Need to Rethink Manufactured Home Quality,” Harvard, GSE, Genz, “High Satisfaction”

 

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Flashback Report – Urban Factory-Home Building Project, What It Could Mean Today

July 1st, 2017 Comments off

Able+AbleFactoryBuiltHomeModularManufacturedHousingDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsIt was the early 1970s. 

Then – as now – affordable housing was an issue. 

Then as now, quality, affordable homes were needed in urban settings — not just in land-lease communities.  Nor limited to scattered, rural homesites.

The home in the featured photo above was reportedly produced in Elkhart, IN.  It was back in the days when Indiana was the predominate pre-HUD Code, mobile and modular home capital of the U.S.

Some 46 years after the home in this photo was built, it’s still standing tall.  It looks as good or better than on-site built homes in that neighborhood built during the same era.  The home stands with others as a proud part of a well-known metropolitan American city.

A local savings and loan financed these homes much like any other.

The homes gained in value, perhaps better than others.

Another Inside MH – Exclusive Report

MHLivingNews plans an exclusive video interview with an entrepreneurial member of a father-son team that placed and sold dozens of these homes…

…until the ‘powers that be’ reportedly stopped the successful project. 

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This family was ready, willing and able to do what was needed. They were succeeding. Then, the powers that be disrupted their flowering project. Their compelling story is coming…stay tuned.

Lessons for Factory Home Professionals Today

Stay tuned for another exclusive report on the factory built housing’s runaway #1 – “Industry News Tips and Views Pros Can Use.” ##

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Manufactured Home Community Residents Reach Settlement In Legal Action

April 24th, 2017 Comments off
ResidentsReachSettlementInLegalActioncreditLowellSun-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Lowell Sun.

In Massachusetts, residents of the Chelmsford Commons manufactured home community have reportedly reached a six-figure settlement in a class action lawsuit against community owner, Michigan based RHP Properties.

According to the Lowell Sun, the suit alleges that RHP improperly raised rents on residents over the last five years. As a result of the settlement, residents have started to see reductions in their rent rates, and RHP has agreed to pay out more than $100,000 to about 350 current and former residents.

I’m hoping that we can get something to bring us all back down again,” said resident Sally Walters, who received a letter earlier this month that RHP was reducing her rent by $9 as a result of the settlement.

Three community residents, who claimed that RHP violated a 1990 master lease agreement that stated that rent increases were to be based, in part, on changes to the Boston Consumer Price Index, filed the lawsuit earlier this month.

Instead, the suit claims RHP based the increases on the national CPI, which rose faster than the Boston index, resulting in inflated rents.

The new owners, if the cost of living doesn’t go up they’re still going to charge you,” said one resident.

They know lots of the residents are on social security and disability.”

Additionally,the lawsuit also claimed that RHP added the cost of repairing a water main break to residents, and that as a part of the settlement, RHP has agreed to set aside an additional $10,000 to compensate residents.

For residents, even though the reduction amounts may be small, they have a significant impact. Many residents, who are on fixed incomes, have had to leave the community due to rent increases of $20 to $30 per month.

Anything helps, there’s no doubt about it,” said resident Jerry Robinson. Robinson has seen a reduction in his rent of $16 so far.

A Middlesex Superior Court judge still has to approve the settlement before notices are sent to residents. RHP has not commented on the settlement. ##

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews

Obamacare in the Crosshairs – What’s the President’s Plan?

April 14th, 2017 Comments off
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Credit: KPFA.

In the ongoing battle surrounding Obamacare, its repeal and its replacement, President Donald Trump is utilizing skills and tactics made famous in his book “Art of the Deal.”

In interviews this week, including one with the Wall Street Journal, President Trump said that he’s exploring the idea of withholding key Obamacare payments, a move designed to get Democrats to the table to negotiate.

I don’t want people to get hurt,” said President Trump.

What I think should happen — and will happen — is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”

The move by the President could throw insurance markets into chaos, which in turn could put Democrats in a position to deal on repealing the law.

At the heart of the matter are the payments themselves, known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). The payments reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles to low-income Obamacare enrollees.

House Republicans have sued over the payments, arguing they are unconstitutional without a congressional appropriation.

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ObamaCare is a jobs killer as well as unpopular with tens of millions of voters. Double digit hikes are coming in 2017, if this bill isn’t repealed and replaced by a GOP president and Congress.

One prominent Democrat spoke out forcefully in response to the President’s proposed move.

President Trump is threatening to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, many of whom voted for him, to achieve a political goal of repeal that would take health care away from millions more,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.)

This cynical strategy will fail. Our position remains unchanged: drop repeal, stop undermining our health care system, and we will certainly sit down and talk about ways to improve the Affordable Care Act.”

President Trump has not said for sure whether he would actually seek to cancel the payments, or whether or not Congress should appropriate the money.

I might continue the payments so that I won’t be blamed for chaos in the system. That’s part of the reason that I may go the other way,” said President Trump.

The longer I’m behind this desk and you have Obamacare, the more I would own it.”

IntheObamacareSnarlTrumpWorksHisMagicAPossibleSolutioncreditLibertyJuice-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Liberty Juice.

While the suit from House Republicans is ongoing, President Trump could simply drop the defense of it and cancel the payments, which would likely result in insurers either spiking premiums or dropping out of the Obamacare market altogether.

Insurers are also pushing for more certainty, as they decide whether or not they will participate in Obamacare next year. Some Congressional Republicans have also called for appropriating the money, which could override any decisions from the Trump administration, and keep payments going.

 

A Real, Practical Solution for Healthcare?

The Daily Business News recently covered the story of Dr. Josh Umbehr of Atlas MD, discussing a potential “best option” for Obamacare repeal and replacement in terms of controlling costs and providing cost-effective services.

Umbehr’s co-op model has already been proven in their clinic, and in other clinics that are doing something similar. For additional insight on this plan and how it would work in combination with the proposed health plan from the Freedom                                 Caucus, MHProNews reached out to a respected MD about the concept.

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Dr. David Murdock. Credit: Healthgrades.

I’ve always liked this type of practice. It doesn’t include hospital care or specialty care, but that could be covered by the catastrophic insurance with a large deductible,” Dr. David Murdock, a cardiologist from Wausau, WI, said to MHProNews when asked about this practice.

If I was a primary doctor, I would push this for my patients.”

Murdock explained that this proven medical care system was a case of back-to-the-future.

That’s actually a return to the way medical care was done in the years before Medicare and widespread insurance,” Murdock said. “It’s not new, it’s a return to how it worked well in the past.“ 

You can see the built in mechanism to contain cost,” said Murdock.

For more on Obamacare and its impact on the manufactured housing industry, click here. ##

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Homes in America – The Land Where Even Doctors Struggle

April 13th, 2017 Comments off

HomesinAmericaLandWhereEvenDoctorsStrugglecreditReMaxLeadingEdgePostedMHLivingNewsIn the United States, some are native born, some immigrate, but all are unified in pursuing the American Dream.

For most, that includes owning a home. But according to a new report on housing affordability from real estate firm Trulia, there are some places in the country where even doctors struggle when it comes to home buying.

A combination of home prices on the rise and inventory at historic lows has pushed homeownership further and further away from middle-income Americans.

Nationwide, the average American worker earns $37,040 annually, while the median cost of a home is $254,900.  This is another compelling reason why there are trillions of dollars in opportunities for manufactured housing, per the report earlier this week by Soheyla Kovach.

The full story on the Trulia report is available at MHLivingNews, linked here. ##

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Report submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Move to Reclassify RV’s In Community

April 13th, 2017 Comments off
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Credit: Peace Arch News.

In Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, a move by the owners of the former Seacrest Motel and RV Park to redevelop was met with strong opposition. Interestingly, the opposition didn’t come from residents.

According to Peace Arch News, Lark Group, the owners of the community want to redevelop the land into 21 single-family lots.

During the third reading of the application last week during a meeting, 31 people opposed the move, but only one Surrey resident spoke against the application.

The heart of the opposition appears to be around the need to protect residents of the RV community, where a majority of the residents are permanent. Last August, year round residents were given eviction notices and told that they had one month to vacate.

The city needs to adjust its manufactured home park redevelopment policy to classify recreational vehicles as manufactured homes if used as a primary residence,” said Grant Rice, a self describe concerned citizen who previously ran for city council and mayor.

Shortly after the eviction notice was provided, South Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said city staff advised the Lark Group to obtain a ruling from the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), which would determine if the RVs could be considered manufactured homes, which would afford the RV owners more benefits.

Regulations in the province require that manufactured home community residents be given one year’s notice of the final moving date, from the time that approvals are granted. They are also entitled to the equivalent of one year’s worth of site rent.

Residents of Seacrest started a committee to take the issue through the RTB process, but after six months, they agreed to accept a settlement package from the Lark Group before a ruling was made.

According to Rice, the residents felt as if their choices were limited.

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Grant Rice speaking at the reading. Credit: Peace Arch News.

One of the problems is you’re asking people who are already stressed and on the verge of being evicted from their home to go to the RTB and roll the dice on whether or not they’re going to get a favorable ruling,” said Rice.

Prior to a vote on the matter, Councilwoman Vera LaFranc stated that she was initially concerned about the displacement of low income residents, and thanks both city staff and the Lark Group for their handling of the process.

We saw that people were treated with respect and that’s what we would expect to see in (the) future if there are any development applications on manufactured homes and that would also include those that are tourist accommodation,” said LaFranc.

The council then approved the application.

As Daily Business News readers are aware, redevelopment, for any number of reasons, is a natural course of business, and most owners and operators follow rules and standards to the letter. This includes assistance for residents, and opportunities to purchase the community, including the case of residents in Dover Point, New Hampshire, who purchased their community right before Christmas. That story is linked here. ##

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

NIMBY in Action – Commission Delays Zoning Ordinance

April 12th, 2017 Comments off
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Nimby comic credit as shown, used here under fair use guidelines.

The Mt. Vernon, Illinois Zoning and Planning Commission has once again tabled conversation on a proposed zoning change that would clear the way for a manufactured home community.

According to the Register News, the decision came after a two-and-a-half hour hearing, which featured a number of residents speaking out against the proposed location.

I’m talking about green-space, people,” said Dianne Klein.

You guys are the zoning board. We are not going to get any more green-space back if you let this development go through. … We don’t want residential. We don’t care if they’re million dollar houses. We want green-space out there.”

The City Council also recently tabled discussions on the proposed community, to work on further establishing guidelines around what would happen to an adjacent park.

Developers Rob Berneking and Andrew Edwards are currently in discussions to purchase the property for the community, and they provided a detailed presentation on the project during the commission meeting.

We are ready, willing and able to develop this project. … The extensive history of managing manufactured home communities gives our group unrivaled experience in quality control, HUD installation, property maintenance, and customer satisfaction.”

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Credit: Google.

At least one member of the audience disagreed.

I object to the stats that have been cited here that indicate manufactured homes perform as well as regular homes during storms,” said audience member Mindy Goss.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, officials, news agencies and the general public continue to specifically point out manufactured homes and communities – often identified incorrectly as “mobile homes” and “mobile home parks” – vs. site-built homes in damage reports.

On average, about 1 in 5 structures identified as “mobile homes” by the media are in fact pre-HUD code mobile homes.  They are routinely the ones that suffer the most damage, because HUD Code manufactured homes are more durable by design.

Zoning board members referenced a petition signed by 438 people objecting to the proposed location of the manufactured home community during the meeting, and the zoning board approved a motion to table the matter until the revised city ordinance regulating manufactured home communities is adopted.

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Danny Feagin. Credit: Aiken Standard.

The Daily Business News has covered a number of potential NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) stories recently, where current residents appear to be working to keep manufactured homes or communities out. Most notable is the case in Aiken, South Carolinawhere Councilman Danny Feagin was quoted as saying “As long as it keeps the mobile home parks [sic] out, I think the folks would be satisfied,” in relation to a proposed rezoning ordinance.

Considering everything presented, we feel that our project is clearly the highest and best use for the subject property,” said Berneking.##

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Ex-Amazon Leader Sees Future In Modular

April 12th, 2017 Comments off
ExAmazonLeaderSeesFutureInModularcreditGeekWire2-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewmhlivingnews

A rendering of Blokable Units. Credit: Blokable.

Former Amazon manager Andy Holm sees the future as “Blokable” with modular housing.

Holm, who led the build out of Amazon’s physical locations, including work on the Amazon Go convenience store concept, discovered his pain during that process was actually a viable business. Finding and working with the firms that would design and build the stores, permitting projects and doing site work to get ready to build were all potential roadblocks.

We built and launched Amazon Books in something like nine months,” said Holm. “There was a ton of innovation that was done in a short period, and all of our constraints were architecture and construction. All of our time bottlenecks were based on those two parts of the process.”

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Andy Holm. Credit: Geek Wire.

According to Geek Wire, Holm also observed thousands of new people coming to Seattle each year, and developers struggling to keep up with housing demand. Combined with an interest in shipping container construction, it was enough for Holm to know it was time to move forward – his company, Blokable, was born.

The startup is focused on manufactured and modular housing, with the goal of speeding up production, cutting costs for builders and making a dent in housing affordability.

I was really deeply involved in the scaling out of building physical space (for Amazon),” said Holm.

And I just saw how inefficient the industry was, and it all just sort of made sense to me in a moment, and from that point when it all came together, there was nothing else that I wanted to do.”

Holm says that Blokable will build everything from single-family homes, to accessory dwelling units that share property with existing homes, to market-rate apartment buildings, to affordable housing.

Each Blok will be furnished with a suite of smart home technology, including lighting, temperature control and the ability to chat with property managers via the messaging app, Slack.

Instead of starting from scratch, we had designs in place in a week,” he said. “We’re looking at a one-third reduction in total project time in a difficult-to-build location at a price below the cost of traditional construction,” said Jeff Werbelow, head of development for Eden, Utah, based Summit Powder Mountain, where Blokable is working on a market rate project.

 

A View From the Industry

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Credit: Metro.

The Daily Business News has covered the rapid innovations of technology in the manufactured and modular industries, including a Russian company’s claims of producing a printed home for $10k.
As with 3D housing, this is an example of an emerging technology that could – in a few years – supplant HUD Code manufactured housing’s market potential,” said consultant and publisher, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.

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L. A. “Tony’ Kovach.

We know that with the proper education and promotion and enforcement of the law, the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 gives our side of the housing industry a huge potential advantage.  But so long as we fail to see the proper PEP – Protection, Education and Promotion – of manufactured homes at the local market level, the industry may be growing short term, but longer term is insecure With proper PEP, amazing manufactured housing growth is proven possible.” ##

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews

Economy in Focus: Jobs, Employment, Trump

April 12th, 2017 Comments off
EconomyinFocusJobsEmploymentTrumpcreditCNSNews-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: Wikipedia.

Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for March, show that the number of employed Americans increased 472,000 to 153,000,000, which represents another record month.

According to CNS News, the number of unemployed persons dropped by 326,000 to 7.2 million, and that brought the unemployment rate in the nation down two-tenths of a point to 4.5 percent.

The numbers from the BLS also showed the labor force participation rate remained flat at 63 percent in March, and the number of Americans not in the labor force increased slightly to 94,213,000, up 23,000 from February’s 94,190,000.

In stark contrast to the ADP Private employment report, the report from the BLS added 98,000 jobs in March, which was below the gains of 219,000 in February and 216,000 in January.

Manufacturing, an area that President Donald Trump has focused on, added 11,000 jobs in March, bringing the total number of people employed in the sector to 12,392,000.

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Credit: CNS News.

This growth represents the largest amount of people employed in the sector since former President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

Since December, the nation has added 49,000 manufacturing jobs and 19,000 government jobs.

As Daily Business News readers are aware, the January, February, and now March reports reflect anticipation of President Trump’s policies, meetings and movement, including the highest Small Business Optimism Index in 37 years from the NFIB.

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Juanita Duggan, President and CEO of the NFIB. Credit, NFIB.

We haven’t seen numbers like this in a long time,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan in January.

Small business is ready for a breakout, and that can only mean very good things for the U.S. economy. Business owners are feeling better about taking risks and making investments.”

 

 

A View from the Industry

Even with the progress that’s been made, President Trump still faces an uphill battle.

tim williams exev vp ohio mfg homes assoc

Tim Williams, OMHA.

As well as the markets and new job creation are already responding to his initiatives, where could we be if there wasn’t a non-stop assault on our new president?” said MHProNews and MHLivingNews Publisher L.A. “Tony” Kovach.

Back in November, Tim Williams told MHProNews that, “I am deeply encouraged that less than 24 hours into President Trump’s term, he has frozen new, potentially burdensome regulations.”  For his full comments, click here.

MHARR CEO, M. Mark Weiss, JD, shared similar thoughts with MHProNews in a story, linked here.

For more on the progress of the Trump Administration, including proposed budget cuts to National Public Radio (NPR) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews