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October 22, 2013

Economy Watch: Economy Created 148,000 Jobs in September; Existing Homes Sales Drop; NMHC: Apartment Market Weakens

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the delayed September report on U.S. employment on Tuesday (originally scheduled for Oct. 4), which found that the economy created a modest 148,000 jobs during the month. The official unemployment rate for the nation edged down from 7.3 percent to 7.2 percent.

September’s gain is weak compared with the average monthly increase in employment of 185,000 positions during the last six months. Still, some industries were hiring in September, with gains in construction, wholesale trade, and transportation and warehousing.

The BLS also revised its estimates of employment gains in previous months, for a small net increase. The change in total employment for July was revised from up 104,000 to up 89,000, while the change for August was revised from an increase of 169,000 to an increase 193,000. With these revisions, employment gains in July and August combined were 9,000 more than previously reported.

Existing Homes Sales See Downtick

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday that total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include ever kind of for-sale property, declined 1.9 percent to an annualized rate of 5.29 million units in September from 5.39 million units in August. Compared with last year, however, existing home sales are still stronger, up 10.7 percent from September 2012.

NAR also reported that total housing inventory at the end of September was unchanged at 2.21 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a five-month supply at the current sales pace, compared with a 4.9-month supply in August. Unsold inventory is 1.8 percent above a year ago, when there was a 5.4-month supply.

Existing home sales have managed to claw their way back to where they were in the early 2000s, when the rate was steadily increasing to a bubble high of more than 700,000 units in 2005. The most recent low was immediately after the homebuyer tax credit expired in 2010, when the rate nearly dropped to 300,000 units.

 

NMHC: Apartment Market Weakens a Little

The National Multi Housing Council reported on Monday that all four indexes of its October Survey of Apartment Market Conditions dipped below 50 for the first time since July 2009. Market Tightness (46), Sales Volume (46), Equity Financing (39) and Debt Financing (41) all indicated declining conditions from the previous quarter. “After four years of almost continuous improvement across all indicators, apartment markets have taken a small step back,” Mark Obrinsky, NMHC’s chief economist, said in statement.

Wall Street ended the day on Monday mixed, but not really moving much. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 7.45 points, or 0.05 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up a scant 0.01 percent and 0.15 percent, respectively.

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