Sometimes the most important data is the hardest to come by. In this case, I'm referring to historic sales figures from homebuilder Lennar Corp. (NYSE:LEN) -- for similar figures from D.R. Horton and PulteGroup, click here and here, respectively. As I've noted previously, while this is arguably the single most accurate reflection of a homebuilder's performance, not to mention the overall housing market, a comprehensive data set containing the data is nowhere to be found.

It's for this reason I decided to collect the information and share it in the chart below. While researching the health of the broader economy, I dug through the quarterly filings of the largest homebuilders. My purpose was to gauge how well the market for new homes had recovered. And, at least so far as volume is concerned at Lennar and the other companies noted above, the answer is: not very well.

Source: Quarterly filings.

There are two reasons to care about this: First, if you own shares of Lennar or another major homebuilder, it goes without saying that the more new homes that are built and sold, the higher that shares in these companies will climb. And second, it's estimated that two to three jobs are created by every home built. As a result, an uptick in this sector could very well trigger a more robust economic recovery overall.

John Maxfield has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.