Jobs are still being added to the economy, with 199,000 net new payroll gains in November. Compared to the peak employment prior to the pandemic in early 2020, there are 4.7 million more Americans working now. Mortgage rate movements may determine entry timing, but jobs are the source of long-term housing demand, which keeps growing.
Wage growth decelerated to 3.96%, which is the slowest since three summers ago. This is partly due to more Americans coming off the bench to enter the labor force. The COVID stimulus money is mostly gone. Despite the lower wage gains, living standards slightly increased as the consumer price inflation was 3.2%. The higher wage gains of 6% during last summer were wiped away by 9% inflation. So, softer wages will help move the overall inflation rate lower. This also means the Federal Reserve must consider a rate cut or two—or three—in 2024.