Weekly analysis of the economic data released during the past week, and how current economic conditions are affecting the real estate market.
Consumer SpendingPersonal income and outlays figures for September were released this morning. In that report, disposable personal incomes eased slightly, 0.2 percent, after gaining 0.4 percent in August. Consumer spending decelerated to a gain of 0.2 percent in September, after a 0.5 percent jump in August. Sales of durable goods led consumer spending by growing 0.7 percent. The PCE inflation index, a measure of growth in prices similar to the consumer price index, rose just 0.1 percent.ISM Manufacturing IndexThe ISM manufacturing index gained in October, up a solid 2.5 points to 56.9. Orders, production, and employment all rose, but a 7.8 point surge in new orders pushed the index further above the critical 50 mark, an indication that this sector is expanding. Employment rose 1.2 points to 57.7.Construction SpendingConstruction spending rose 0.5 percent from August to September. Residential construction rose 1.8 percent from August, while non-residential slipped 1.6 percent. Public sector construction rose 1.3 percent from August to September.What This Means for Employment and RecoveryIncome growth remains sluggish, but demand for goods was solid. The improved demand for manufactured goods and residential home construction are positive signs for the labor market. Echoing this trend was the upward movement of employment in the manufacturing sector. Employment and confidence are critical to a sustained economic recovery. While today’s reading is not an overwhelming sign, it is a move in the right direction.
Mortgage Purchase ApplicationsMortgage purchase applications were up 1.4 percent for the week ending October 29th. Purchase applications do not take into consideration cash buyers who according to the August REALTORS® Confidence Index make up as much as 28 percent of transactions. Mortgage purchase applications were down 28.5 percent from the same week a year ago. Refinances, which made up 81.3 percent of mortgage activity, fell 6.4 percent as mortgage rates inched up to 4.28 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage.ADP Employment ReportPrivate sector employment grew 43,000 in October, slightly more than expected, according to the ADP national employment report. While growth is good, more jobs need to be created to bring down unemployment (see this brief commentary for more details). Friday’s data from the Labor Department should provide a clearer picture on October’s employment numbers.
Jobless ClaimsLast week’s initial jobless claims data suggest to continued swings in the labor market. The initial claims jumped 20,000 to 457,000 after two weeks of declines. The 4-week moving average also moved up 2,000 claims to 456,000. Falling below 400,000 would indicate improvement in the job market. Continued claims fell, though, by 42,000 to the lowest level since November 2008. The largest increase in initial claims came from California due to layoffs in the forestry, fishing and agriculture industries, while the largest decrease was in Kentucky and Florida.Productivity and CostsIn the productivity and costs report also released today, productivity in the third quarter is showing to be rebounding due to output growth and slight decrease in per unit labor costs. The improvement in productivity mostly reflected growth in nonfarm business sector, but productivity in manufacturing also picked up slightly.
October Jobs ReportIn October, 151,000 jobs were added. Since December 2009, payroll employment has risen by 874,000. Temporary help services add 35,000 jobs in October. Since, September of 2009, temporary help has added 451,000 jobs. Companies often hire temporary help before they add permanent employment. Health care, hospitality, mining and retail employment, including auto dealerships and appliance stores also saw gains in employment in October. The unemployment rate is unchanged at 9.6 percent.