The Home Buyer's Korner

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November 7th, 2015

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National Unemployment Rates at 5.0 Percent

Jobs-in-Focus

After a stronger-than-expected October Non-Farm Payrolls report, mortgage-backed securities sold off worldwide on Friday, creating a substantial hike in mortgage rates.

Some portals that offered online quotes for home buyers showed conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates had crossed 4.00 percent for the first time in 15 weeks, and the 15-year fixed-rate rates were approaching 3.25 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were on the rise as well, with the 5-year ARM at its highest point in nearly a half-year.

Mortgage rates can change quickly! Last week, mortgage rates reached new lows, boosting the purchasing power of home buyers across the country.

On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls report. More commonly known as “the jobs report”, Non-Farm Payrolls gives a detailed look at the nation’s workforce. The report includes jobs by sector, average earnings, and the national unemployment rate.

The Non-Farm Payrolls report is among each month’s closely-watched economic releases, because so much of the U.S. economy is tied to jobs. The October Non-Farm Payrolls report showed 271,000 net new jobs created last month and far more than the 180,000 net new jobs economists had forecast. Furthermore, the unemployment rate declined to 5.0 percent.

The report also showed net upwards revisions in the prior two Non-Farm Payrolls releases. August and September data was revised higher by twelve thousand jobs created, overall. The September number of 137,000, which was revised down from 142,000 and August’s number got pushed up from 136,000 to 153,000.

Professional and business services led sector gains with 78,000 new jobs. Administrative and support services added the most of the group with 46,000 jobs. Health care grew by 45,000 workers, retail added 44,000 and restaurants and bars increased by 42,000. Construction also added 31,000 workers, though the mining sector lost 5,000 jobs.

With job growth surging in October and rebounding from a late-summer slowdown that raised concerns about whether global slowness was infecting the U.S. the strong numbers could point to this summer’s labor market pullback as just an anomaly. The report also puts home buyers on notice. October’s jobs data gives the Fed more evidence for its “liftoff” from the zero-interest rate policy to be more likely in December. After the Feds last meeting in October, the Federal Reserve said that an increase in the Fed Funds Rate would be on the table for its December meeting, and twice last week, Fed members said that liftoff is now a “live consideration”.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes those who have stopped looking as well as those working part-time for economic reasons declined to 9.8 percent, the first time it’s been below 10 percent since May 2008. More important was the growth in average hourly earnings, which jumped 9 cents an hour, representing an annualized gain of 2.5 percent. The average workweek remained at 34.5 hours.

The labor force participation rate remained at a historical low of 62.4 percent, though the decline in the total labor force slowed a bit. There were 97,000 fewer Americans counted as not in the labor force, a number that remains near record highs at 94.5 million.

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