Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses jobless claims.

  • It’s another week of disappointing job market data: initial claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending Sept 8 rose by 15,000 claims to 382,000 from the previous week’s revised (upward) estimate. This puts the 4-week moving average at 375,000, which is higher than 300,000 weekly claims during normal times (see graph below).
  • On a positive note, the economy’s recovery from the Great Recession of 2009 has actually been more resilient than the economy’s recovery in the aftermath of 9/11. After 9/11, weekly job claims rose from 200,000 claims to about 400,000 per week, and then recovered to about 300,000 by 2004 or a 3-year span. In contrast, claims rose from about 300,000 to a peak of 600,000 claims during the Great Recession of 2009, and have dropped to about half of that in the 3-year span. Also, the number of insured unemployed has fallen steeply from about 6 million to just about 3 million.
  • Notwithstanding this, one hopes for a faster and deeper recovery in the jobs market. NAR estimates about 1.5 million net new jobs in 2012, and 2.3 million jobs in 2013, which can add to the demand for existing/new homes.
  • Separately, the Fed announced more purchases of mortgage bonds.  In theory, this should lower mortgage rates a bit, but in practice the small changes to already generational-low mortgage rates will have no noticeable impact.  The game changer will be returning underwriting standards back to normal from the current overly strigent conditions.

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