Fannie Mae economist says unemployment cutting growth
News of the U.S. economy adding 117,000 jobs in July lifted stocks Friday morning after a hellish day on Wall Street, where mortgage-related stocks fell as much as 20% in some cases. But economists say Friday's slightly optimistic jobs report is a minor part of the story of America's economy. Even though July's job report showed promise, for many analysts, it's only a temporary break in the clouds, as the nation continues to battle structural unemployment, slow growth and consumer pessimism. Fannie Mae Economist Doug Duncan added a dose of reality to Friday's jobs report saying "even though the figures are better than feared, it is clear that the labor market has lost momentum in recent months." He said when looking at the three-month period that ended in July the average monthly gain in jobs was 72,000, down from 215,000 in the first three months of the year. He further stated the slight decline in the unemployment rate from 9.2% to 9.1% has nothing to do with more people finding jobs, but rather to the unemployed giving up on finding work. When adding recent market volatility, which is likely to shake up household wealth, Duncan suggests an already weak economy suffered additional setbacks this week despite better-than-expected jobs data. "The sluggish pace of job creation implies that the economy is vulnerable to external shocks, such as the renewed concerns about the European sovereign debt crisis," he said. "Moreover, economic growth at the current pace is insufficient to spur sustained, robust job creation, which is required to boost sentiment, spending and housing demand. Our July Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, to be released next Monday, continues to indicate a high level of caution among consumers regarding additional financial commitments." Write to: Kerri Panchuk.