Out of class, school became an environment of legal talk, almost all of it well-spoken. I reported to Annette each night my general wonder at how enormously articulate everybody seemed. And people were beginning to inject that new vocabulary into their conversation, speaking Legal to each other. It was strange at first to hear classmates saying in the hallways, “Quaere if that position can be supported?” or employing Legal in other contexts—“Let me add a caveat” to mean “Let me give you a warning.” People were self-conscious about how oratorical and windy they sounded. They uttered a little hiccup or a laugh when they tried out their Legal, but most of us persisted, practicing on each other.
It was Nicky Morris who most neatly summed up what we were all trying to do in using legalisms. In the last meeting of Civil Procedure that week, a woman answered a question Morris had posed. “The court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the person,” she said.
“I’m not sure I know what that means,” Morris told the woman, “but I’m still glad to hear you talking that way. After all,” he said, “you can’t be a duck until you learn to quack.”
Turow, Scott. One L
CONTINUING SHORTFALL IN SUPPLY
Just as the recent housing downturn was longer and deeper than any other since the Great Depression, the residential construction rebound has been slower. Since reaching bottom in 2011 at just 633,000 new units, additions to the housing stock have grown at an average annual rate of just 10 percent. Despite these steady gains, completions and placements totaled only 1.2 million units last year—the lowest annual production, excluding 2008–2018, going back to 1982.
The sluggish construction recovery is in part a response to persistently weak household growth after the recession. On a three-year trailing basis, the number of net new households dropped below 1.0 million in 2008 and held below that mark for seven straight years, including a low of just 534,000 in 2009. By comparison, even through the three recessions and large demographic shifts that occurred between 1980 and 2007, household growth still averaged 1.3 million annually and only dipped below 1.0 million once.
With the economy finally back on track, household growth picked up to 1.2 million a year in 2016–2018, close to expected levels given the size and age composition of the population. But new construction was still depressed relative to demand, with additions to supply just keeping pace with the number of new households (Figure 1). As a result, the national vacancy rate for both owner-occupied and rental units fell again in 2018, to 4.4 percent, its lowest point since 1994.
JOINT CENTER FOR HOUSING STUDIES OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY