The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly Non-farm Payrolls and National Unemployment Rate for April last Friday. These two reports are collectively called the Jobs Report.
165,000 jobs were added in April, while the unemployment rate dropped from 7.60 percent in March to 7.50 percent in April. 673,000 jobs have been added since January. Jobs were added in employment sectors including business and professional, health care and eating and drinking establishments.
The main impact of the jobs report on home sales and mortgage lending is the ability of would-be home buyers to qualify for mortgage loans.
Long term unemployment and under-employment has worked against consumers wanting to buy homes when interest rates and home prices hit significant lows.
Falling Long Term Unemployment Numbers Help New Home Buyers Buy Homes
Long-term unemployment (workers unemployed for 27 weeks or more) fell by 258,000 workers to 4.4 million in April. The share of long term workers among all unemployed fell by 2.2 percent to 37.4 percent of unemployed workers.
Since January, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 687,000 workers and 3.1 percent. Gaining employment is a plus for the economy and for households facing financial stress due to unemployment.
Another significant data set in terms of U.S. jobs measures workers who are working part-time, but who want to work full time. This sector increased by 278,000 in April to 7.9 million.
February and March 2013 Non-farm Payrolls numbers were revised upward. In February, jobs added were changed from 268,000 to 332,000. In March, jobs added were revised from 88,000 to 138,000. This adjusts the number of jobs added for February to March by an additional 114,000 new jobs.
Federal Reserve Bond Purchase Point To Continued Low Mortgage Rates
The Federal Reserve is continuing its program of quantitative easing (QE) by buying $85 billion in bonds and mortgage backed securities (MBS) monthly.
Reducing or eliminating QE would lessen the demand for bonds and MBS; when bond and MBS prices fall, mortgage rates usually rise. Lower mortgage rates can help offset rising home prices and allow more consumers to buy homes.
While home prices are gradually increasing, mortgage rates are still low. This helps moderate-income home buyers with affordability, but these conditions won’t last indefinitely.
In some regions, such as the West, available homes and land are in short supply, which is driving up home prices. This trend is helping home owners, and potentially home sellers, gain higher sales prices for their real estate. Overall, increasing the number of jobs is positive for the economy.
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