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Why Housing Starts Are Even Worse Than They Look

It's really just arithmetic: The work force is about 155 million workers, and you can calculate what shifting that many people to the employed column would mean as well as I can.

But that 1.2 million starts -- which would have represented a gain of almost 25% from 2013 -- increasingly seems not to be in the cards as the spring home-selling season slips away.

The reasons are well known. Wages need to rise more to boost affordability, because mortgage rates are unlikely to go down as growth accelerates. Relief on student loan burdens, such as President Obama's plan to expand interest-rate subsidies, would help at the margin. That would be the case even though most borrowers who stop at a bachelor's degree should pay off their loans about when they reach normal home buying age, which historically has been about 31, according to National Association of Realtors research. 

At a minimum, mortgage rates need to stay low -- buyers are already more spooked than raw numbers about employment and home affordability say they should be. With the Fed's Open Market Committee meeting this week, discretion about making sure they don't get any more spooked would be the better part of economic valor.

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This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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