Employment in the U.S. went on another upswing in July with 209,000 jobs added to the workforce, beating analyst expectations for a second straight month, according to job numbers released Friday.
The unemployment rate again dipped to 4.3 percent, a 16-year low, while the labor participation rate, which measures the number of people actively employed or looking for work, was little changed, going up by 0.1 percent from a month earlier. The average workweek remained unchanged at 34.5 hours.
July’s report came in lower than June’s, which saw the labor force gain more than 220,000 new jobs. Still, the numbers exceeded most forecasts from economists who expected that only 180,000 new jobs would join the economy last month.
The news emboldened stock market futures, which rose soon after the report’s release, while government bond yields also moved higher.
And while Friday’s numbers suggest a sustained positive outlook for economic health, wage growth remains subdued. Average hourly earnings stayed the same as June, growing by 2.5 percent over the last year, or 9 cents over the last month. Since the recession, wages have been one of the most hard-pressed metrics to improve, barely budging even as the economy continues to improve.
But that didn’t deter President Donald Trump from taking to Twitter early Friday to hail the job numbers, lauding them as excellent and promising to his followers that his efforts to put more Americans to work has only “just begun.” Before the numbers were reported, Trump blasted off a series of tweets praising the economy’s progress and touting plans from Toyota and Mazda to build new plants in the U.S.
One thing is for certain: a robust jobs report of this caliber proves that consumers will continue to have the bandwidth to increase their own spending, and that employers are more confident in the performance of the economy. This may send clear signals to the Federal Reserve that the economy is resilient enough to bear another rate hike later this year.
What is the Treasury Refunding and its impacts on markets?
Every quarter, the U.S. Treasury issues new five- and 10-year notes as a way of retiring or redeeming outstanding bond issues approaching their maturity with proceeds generated by new debt. The process is called refunding, and includes officials selling notes and bonds to institutional and individual investors through public auctions.
Bond market investors pay close attention to the Treasury’s refunding to get an idea of how much debt is available in the market. Any debt redeemed in the subsequent six months will offset new government debt, which in turns influences the yield of bonds issued. And remember, as yields move, so do mortgage rates — if yields are higher, so are interest rates, and vice-versa.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday it will issue $62 billion of longer-term debt to keep the government financed at least until the end of September and compensate for any decline in Federal Reserve bond purchases.
The department will sell $24 billion in three-year notes, $23 million in 10-year notes and $15 billion in 30-year bonds in August, according to Bloomberg. Those sales are expected to generate about $14.7 billion in new cash.
The Treasury also plans to increase bills and coupon sizes to meet the government’s borrowing needs once the Federal Reserve begins unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.
Pending home sales on the mend
After three months of spiraling downward, pending homes sales rebounded in June, with contract signings increasing 1.5 percent from a month earlier, and 0.5 percent higher than at the same time last year. That means more home buyers entered the market after remaining benched during the usually busy spring season, according to the National Association of Realtors.
That’s promising news for the housing industry, which, although recovering from the pangs of recession, still faces affordability issues and an unsatisfyingly low housing inventory.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that contract signings in the first half of 2017 ended with an almost identical number as a year ago. “Market conditions in many areas continue to be fast-paced, with few properties to choose from,” he says. That forces buyers to “act almost immediately on an available home that fits their criteria.”
That doesn’t alleviate some of the industry’s most troubling barriers. Home prices continue to soar, the supply of homes for sale continues to dwindle, the sale of existing homes fell in June and the sale of new homes remains flat. And while would-be buyers in June still requested home tours at the same rate they did in May, 11 percent fewer were making actual offers, according to Redfin data cited by CNBC.
Still, Yun seemed optimistic about the prospects for first-time buyers. Sales to investors in June fell 13 percent — the lowest so far this year — pushing cash transactions to 18 percent. Fewer investors paying cash into the market could mean less competition for affordable homes. Yun also believes existing-home sales the second half of the year will increase by more than 2 percent.
If you’re trying to keep buyers, especially first-timers, encouraged, focus their attention to the historically low interest rates still prevalent in the market. While there’s a chance those rates will increase later this year, borrowers should act now, take advantage of a low rate environment and lock in a good rate.