Five years ago, Netscape founder Marc Andreessen (You know, the guy who created Mosaic. Does anyone else remember that browser?) wrote that technology was Eating the World. What he meant was that the technology industry was about to grow so rapidly that it was going to become an unstoppable beast that ends up being fed (from a labor standpoint) by everything else within arms length. Basically, a metaphorical black hole for workers, entrepreneurs, and capital. And ... well, he was right. Tech is huge. Apple is sitting on a pile of cash bigger than Scrooge McDuck's. Amazon killed retail and is now your go-to resourch for ... well ... everything, with same day delivery nonetheless. And Google could be the most powerful company in the world.
Now comes New River Investments' portfolio manager Conor Sen, writing for The Washington Post's Wonkblog, who says that the next major "eating of the world" movement for the U.S. economy is ... wait for it ... housing. No, this isn't 2005. You haven't tripped and fallen into a time machine.
What this is, is that it's a reading of the tea leaves. And by tea leaves, I, of course, mean piles of FRED charts. It's simple math, actually. Sen took a look at historic rates of proportion of the population that works in construction, the unemployment rate of the construction industry, the unemployment rate of men under 55 (who make up the bulk of the housing labor force, generally), and the (declining) proportion of workers without college degrees, and comes to the conclusion that the housing labor force is going to need about 600,000 or so more workers than they have now, in a tightening labor force, with immigration numbers down (drastically) since the financial crisis of 2008. These workers are going to come from another industry, which could have serious ramifications on the shape of the total economy. And with venture capital beginning to shy from tech startups (or at least beginning to ask them for, gasp, actual revenue projections before investing), a lot of that capital will also start to migrate to housing as well.
Read Conor Sen's full story over at Wonkblog.