Friday, November 11, 2011

Opposing Forces

If we are extremely lucky these two pieces of news will be able to coexist.

Jobless claims dip:

Fewer Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week, marking continued – but still slow – improvement in the job market.

About 390,000 people filed for initial unemployment benefits in the week ending Nov. 5, the Labor Department said Thursday.  The number of claims fell 10,000 from the revised 400,000 in the prior week, and is now at the lowest level since April 2.

“The passing of some of economic weakness is starting to show in a better labor market,” said Michael Gapen, senior U.S. economist at Barclays Capital.

The four-week moving average if initial claims, used to smooth out volatility, is teetering exactly at 400,000. While not an exact science, that number serves as a rough estimate for economists, who say claims below 400,000 could mean job growth has finally become strong enough to start bringing the unemployment rate down.

In a report last week, the government said the unemployment rate dipped to 9% in October, down from 9.1% the month before. (Source: Yahoo News)

The number of foreclosures climbed in October, as mortgage lenders started to work through the paperwork that had delayed new filings for much of last year.

RealtyTrac said one in every 563 U.S. home had either a default notice, a scheduled auction or a bank repossession filing during the month.

“The October foreclosure numbers continue to show strong signs that foreclosure activity is coming out of the rain delay we’ve been in for the past year as lenders corrected foreclosure paperwork and processing problems,” said James Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO. (Source: Yahoo News)

Considering that our economy is pretty much based on a health housing market, I am concerned these two numbers (declining unemployment and increasing foreclosures) are going to struggle against one another.  As long as unemployment stays high, people just aren’t going to buy homes. As long as people don’t buy homes because of fears the housing market still hasn’t reached bottom unemployment is going to have a difficult time recovering.

The final paragraph of the linked article on foreclosures says it best:

The best hopes for stopping foreclosures is an improvement in the overall economy, especially in the battered real estate and labor markets. But with so many foreclosed homes weighing on the market, and with unemployment still at 9% and consumer confidence low, even mortgage rates near record lows aren’t enough to fix the problem caused by the bursting of the housing bubble. (Source: Yahoo News)

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