30- Second Update – Strong August Jobs Report Supports Surging Economy

The results of August’s jobs report further supports that our economy is not only strong, but surging.  The United States created 201,000 new jobs in August, keeping the unemployment rate at an 18-year low of 3.9%.   The 201,000 new jobs were 10,000 more than what analysts expected.  The biggest news, however, came in the form of higher wage growth.  The yearly rate of pay increases climbed to 2.9% from 2.7%, representing the highest level since June 2009.  In addition, the average wage paid to American workers rose by 10 cents to $27.16 per hour.  Ward McCarthy, Chief Financial Economist at Jeffries, said wage growth is probably even better than it looks, since wages appear to be statistically depressed by the fact that higher-paid baby boomers are retiring and being replaced by lower-paid, younger workers.

Impact on Housing:

The August jobs report reflected an improved labor market and more confidence from both employers and workers.  The surprise jump in wages may be the final indicator for the Fed to green light its next interest rate hike.   Fed funds futures showed odds of a December hike at 58%, up from 52% before the jobs report.  Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan believes there needs to be 3-4 interest rate hikes over the next 12 months to maintain steady economic growth.  Kaplan went on to say, “everything that’s in this job report today just causes me to reaffirm that view.”







Housing Market: Pending Home Sales Still Holding Strong

The Pending Home Sales Index is released monthly by the National Association of Realtors.  This index reports on the housing sector and breaks down pending sales of existing homes that have signed contracts.  Since this information is based on a signed contract, not a closed sale, it is seen as more of a forward-looking index.  With this latest release, for the month of July, we see Pending Home Sales cooling a bit across the nation by about 2.3% year over year, mostly due to a low level of inventory, but is still at a level of 106.2.  A level of 100 is the average level of Pending Home Sales so anything over 100 is seen as a positive indicator.  When digging deeper into the report, we also see that in many markets, pending sales are still increasing, but are just off their highs from last year.  The northeast and midwest showed gains for the month of July, but are slightly lower than where they were this time last year. 

Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors’ Chief Economist has said, “it is important to note how much the housing market has recovered since the depths of the financial crisis.  Foreclosures sit near historic lows and record high home values have helped millions of households build substantial wealth.”  Lawrence also added that, “Rising inventory levels- especially if new home construction finally starts picking up, should slow the pace of appreciation to around 2-4% which will help first-time home buyers and be good for long-term health of the nation’s housing market.”


30 Second Update – Week of September 3rd, 2018

Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day is a yearly, national tribute to the workers that have contributed to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. The first Labor Day was held on September 5th, 1882 in New York City, organized by the Central Labor Union.

Speaking of the U.S. Labor Department, jobless claims are reported every week and show the number of individuals claiming unemployment for the first time. In August, a milestone has been reached because the number of individuals needing assistance has reached an all-time low, even with a larger workforce. “Claims” have fallen to their lowest level since 1969! An interesting report also showed that the number of people receiving benefits after just an initial week of aid is dropping, as well. A strong U.S. labor market is tied to a strong economy, and a strong and healthy housing market.

Fun Facts:

  • Oregon was the first state to celebrate Labor Day as a legal holiday in 1887.
  • Americans worked 12-hour days, 7 days a week during the 19th century!
  • The football season starts on or around Labor Day every year for all levels!
  • Traditionally, people did not wear white or seersucker clothes after Labor Day, as it unofficially marked the end of summer.



What exactly is a Credit Score and how is it calculated?

What is a FICO Score? The Fair Isaac Corporation first introduced the FICO score in 1989.  It is a measure of consumer credit risk and has become a fixture of consumer lending in the US.  Three major credit bureaus issue individual FICO scores: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.   FICO Scores from each of these bureaus are created by information that has been reported to them and may differ from bureau to bureau.  The information reported to each bureau stems from debts, payments, credit card accounts, and overall financial history.  This collected information is what will then help estimate the level of future risk there may be if a lender extends to you the offer of a loan or any type of credit.

How is a FICO Score Calculated?

  • Payment History- 35% - Missed/late payments will drastically lower your score.  FICO scores do favor recent activity, however, so in order to improve your score you must continue to make on-time payments.


  • Credit Utilization- 30% - How much you owe versus how much credit that is available to you has the second largest impact on your FICO score.  Maxed out credit cards indicate that an individual poses a higher risk of default on a loan.


  • Length of Credit History- 15% - Credit accounts owned over a longer period of time will strengthen your FICO score.


  • Mix of Accounts- 10% - Higher FICO scores are generated if you have a mix of different types of credit accounts.  These accounts can consist of mortgages, credit cards, installment loans, auto loans, etc.


  • New Credit Inquiries- 10% - Continuously applying for extension of credit over a short period of time will have a negative impact on your FICO score. 

Overall Analysis!!!

FICO scores range from 300 to 850.  Simply put, the lower the score, the higher the risk.  Your credit score will be used to determine the approval or denial of any extension of credit.  In addition, your FICO score will determine the interest rate that will be given to you.  Higher credit scores will result in lower interest rates, and vice versa. 


Home Builders and Small Businesses Show Optimism for Growth

Recently, the National Association of Home Builders released their Housing Market Index (HMI).  This index is created from a survey where builders are asked questions about the current state of the economy and the housing market. Weighted in the housing market portion of the survey are questions about present and future home sales and forecasted prospective buyers of new homes.

The HMI that was recently reported for the month of August is now at a level of 67.  This level is still strong and shows that builders are still optimistic with current market conditions.  Increasing construction costs and fear of tariffs brought their “confidence” down by 1 point from their September index.  Anything over 50 is seen as expansionary and optimistic.

Another economic survey called the Small Business Optimism index measures components of small businesses such as plans to add employees, plans to increase expenses, expectation of increased sales, current inventory levels, propensity to increase inventories, expectation of the economy to expand, current credit conditions and more.

This current release was at 107.9 which is the second highest number in 45 years!  Expectations in new job creations, an improving economy, increasing of company spending and plans to increase inventories pushed this index higher thus showing strong optimism.

These reports point to an overall healthy environment for homeowners.  Very high levels of demand and optimism for new homes and very optimistic and successful businesses are a good sign of a strong and healthy housing market and point to further home appreciation.




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