It would be too much to say that the housing market alone is driving economic growth, but it clearly is a vital component. The economy of the Dalton area, where the floorcovering industry is the dominant employer, is especially sensitive to the health of the housing market.

That’s why economists have been publicly worrying for a long time about the bottom falling out of new home sales. So far, the most gloomy predictions have failed to materialize, confounding many experts.

The Commerce Department says sales of new single-family homes rose 4.6 percent in May. Wall Street analysts had predicted a 4 percent fall in sales.

The impact of those sales will ripple across the economy as owners also buy new carpets and floorcovering, new appliances and new furnishings.

On the down side, the National Association of Realtors says sales of previously owned homes dropped by 1.2 percent in May, with the biggest drops occurring in the Northeast.

Fewer sales of existing homes means less remodeling and that should likely translate into less demand for floorcovering, appliances and such.

No one should expect the big increases in home sales that we’ve seen over the past five years to continue. But so far, there’s no evidence a crash in home sales is in the offing, either.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently predicted an “orderly and moderate” slowdown in the housing market. That certainly doesn’t sound very bleak.

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