Economic Indicators: Weekly Update – April 3

A weekly analysis of the economic data released during the past week, and how current economic conditions are affecting the real estate market.

Palm Coast, FL – April 3, 2011 – Every week the Research staff analyzes key data releases and explain what they mean for you and your business. In this update, we give the highlights of the most important data releases for the week of March 28-April 1, 2011 along with graphs that show the latest movement and overall trends.


At a glance, this table shows the forecast for some of the most pertinent weekly data for REALTORS® to keep in mind. This changes from week to week as new data becomes available. The directional shift notes the trend from last week’s numbers. For the full forecast from the latest Pending Home Sales release, click here (PDF).

Highlights for Monday, March 28, 2011:

  • February Pending Home Sales data was released.  To read the press release, click here.

Highlights for Tuesday, March 29, 2011:


  • The Case-Shiller 20-city index extended its decline relative to a year ago with a seasonally adjusted 3.03% drop in January.  However, the rate of decline decelerated for the 3rd consecutive month as prices eased 0.22% between January and December, down from a fall of 0.39% a month earlier.
  • This index lags the NAR median home price figures by a month and reflects home sold between November and January, a period of high levels of distressed sales as shown by NAR’s REALTOR® Confidence Index for February.  Furthermore, the Case-Shiller index does not cover 13 states and is weighted such that changes of higher priced homes have a stronger impact on the index.
  • Consumer confidence fell 8.6 points to 63.4 in March.

Highlights for Wednesday, March 30, 2011:


  • Mortgage purchase applications fell 7.5 percent for the week ending March 25th, on the heels of interest rate increases. Purchase applications are a leading indicator of home sales.
  • However, purchase applications do not always translate into loan acceptances and transactions.  In addition, the purchase applications figure is impacted by the rising number of cash buyers.  According to the February REALTORS® Confidence Index, cash buyers accounted for 33 percent of transactions.
  • Mortgage purchase applications were down 21.9 percent from the same week a year ago. Mortgage rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 4.81 percent, leading to a 10.1 percent drop in refinances.

Highlights for Thursday, March 31, 2011:


  • The number of new jobless claims fell slightly last week, by 6,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 388,000. The prior week’s numbers were, however, revised up to 394,000 from an originally reported 382,000.
  • Since the middle of February, claims have been mostly below 400,000, widely deemed the point at which the economy is gaining more jobs than is losing. The number of continuing claims fell by 51,000 to 3,714,000 in the week ended March 19.
  • Assuming that jobless claims continue to trend down, NAR expects about 1.5 to 2 million net new jobs in the next 12 months.

Friday, April 1, 2011:


  • For the second month in a row, private payroll employment growth was well over two hundred thousand registering 230,000 job gains in March. February’s private job growth was revised up to 240,000 from 222,000.-Government payrolls decreased, largely at the local government level.
  • The unemployment rate declined another tenth from 8.9 to 8.8 percent. The labor force grew though the participation rate was held constant. Households reported a decrease in the number unemployed and an increase in the number employed. There was a slight increase in the very-long-term unemployed, but decreases in the number of those unemployed for 5 to 26 weeks. For the second time this year, the number of those not in the labor force because they are discouraged by job prospects decreased.
  • The economy has already recovered 1.5 million of the 8.75 million jobs lost during the recession. If this rate of job growth continues, the economy will recover the 7.25 million jobs not yet recovered in less than 3 years.
  • The ISM Manufacturing index increased in March suggesting continued growth in the manufacturing industry.
  • Construction spending is also out and reveals continued weakness. One bright spot was a slight uptick in private nonresidential construction spending in February. Private construction spending is weaker than one year ago, while public construction spending is slightly higher.

©National Association of Realtors® – reprinted w/permission

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