Unemployment rate falls and so does housing affordability

Unemployment decreased by 284,000 jobs in July

Jobs continued to increase in July, dropping the unemployment rate to 3.9%, according to the latest Employment Situation Summary report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to the report, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 284,000 to 6.3 million in July. The jobless rates for all other groups, including men at 3.4%, teenagers at 12.6%, whites at 3.4%, blacks at 6.6%, Asians at 3.1% and Hispanics at 4.5% — these all showed little or no change over the month.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in July, compared with an average monthly gain of 203,000 over the past 12 months.

The majority of job gains in July can be attributed to an increase in jobs in professional and business services, manufacturing, healthcare and social assistance.

Here are some of the areas which showed major changes in July:

  • Employment in professional and business services increased 51,000
  • Employment in manufacturing increased 37,000
  • Employment in healthcare and Social Assistance increased 34,000

In July, construction employment increased by 19,000 jobs and has increased and has increased by 308,000 over the year.

Increasing employment is good news for potential homebuyers, but climbing prices have still kept homes unaffordable, according to Chief economist Danielle Hale.

“Today’s job report showed 2.7% income growth roughly the same amount of extra money in shoppers’ pockets that we’ve seen since December,” Hale said. “While the extra income will help offset the pinch of higher mortgage rates, prices are still growing much faster.”

“Job growth is generally a positive factor for the housing market, but with few affordable homes for many buyers, what’s most needed now is income growth and new construction,” Hale continued, adding the jobs numbers indicate that construction is likely to keep growing.

However, earlier this month The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced construction spending during June 2018 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,317.2 billion.

This is 1.1% below the revised May estimate of $1,332.2 billion, which could mean homebuilders are still having difficulty igniting the industry.

This sentiment was revealed in the most recent National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which indicated that sharply elevated lumber prices contributed to homebuilder confidence slipping two points to 68 last month.  

Nevertheless, the housing industry will need to see an increase in both inventory and affordability to entice home sales. 

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