Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Instant Reaction: Jobs, March 8, 2024

The latest jobs figures displayed a mixed picture. Another solid 275,000 net new payroll jobs were added in February. There are 5.5 million more jobs now compared to the pre-COVID record high in early 2020. However, the unemployment rate went up to 3.9% because a different measurement of jobs from a household survey (rather than a company survey) showed 184,000 fewer workers. The monthly wage rise of 0.14% was the slowest in two years, though the annual wage gain of 4.3% is above the consumer price inflation of 3.1%.

Job additions build up the long-term real estate demand for housing, retail spaces, warehouses, and hotel travel, but not necessarily for office spaces. The short-term timing of purchase is dependent upon mortgage rates and inventory availability. Home sales recorded the lowest activity in 2023 in nearly 30 years. Note that there are 158 million payroll jobs today compared to 117 million when home sales were similarly low. It implies sizable potential real estate demand on the sidelines, ready to pounce once short-term conditions move favorably.

Total payroll jobs
Total jobs by household survey
Unemployment rate
Wage growth above consumer price inflation