The Employment Situation: The Weekly Market Update

More Work To Do

More Work To Do

We just saw the last unemployment report of 2016. The December numbers came in at 156,000 jobs added for the month, which was a bit lower than expected–but the previous two months were revised upward by almost 20,000. The unemployment rate came in at 4.7%, as expected. Wage growth came in higher than expectations. With the year ending and a changeover in Presidents, it also gives us the chance to see how this important economic indicator is doing, not only for the past year, but for the past several years as well.

For all of 2016, the economy gained just over 2 million jobs. This is an impressive number, but it was down from 2.7 million jobs added the year before and 3.1 million jobs added in 2014. In addition, the unemployment rate started 2015 at 5.0% and ended the year at 4.7%. Finally, the labor participation rate started the year at 62.6% and ended the year at 62.7%, virtually flat for the year. It was over 66.0% before the recession hit. Looking back eight years, at the end of 2008, the unemployment rate was 7.3% and reached 10.0% during the first year of the Presidency, when the country was mired in recession.

Overall, the economy lost 8.7 million jobs during the recession, which bridged two administrations. Since the end of the recession, we have averaged a net gain in jobs of 190,000 per month, or just under 2.3 million per year. This means we have recovered the jobs lost during the recession and more, but if you average the job gains over 10 years, to include the first stages of the recession, the annual average job gains have totaled much less. In conclusion, we have made up much ground, especially when looking at the unemployment rate. However, there is more work to be done with regards to adding more jobs and increasing the labor participation rate.

The Weekly Market Update

Rates opened the year lower for the first time since late October. For the week ending January 5, Freddie Mac announced that 30-year fixed rates fell to 4.20% from 4.32% the week before. The average for 15-year loans decreased to 3.44%, and the average for five-year adjustables moved up to 3.33%. A year ago, 30-year fixed rates were at 3.97%, approximately 1/4% lower than today's levels.

Attributed to Freddie Mac -- "This marks the first time since 2014 that rates on home loans opened the year above 4 percent. Despite this week's breather, the 66-basis point increase in the 30-year fixed-rate since November 3, is taking its toll on refinances, as the Mortgage Bankers Association's refinance index plunged 22% this past week."

Note: Rates indicated do not include fees and points and are provided for evidence of trends only. They should not be used for comparison purposes.