More Homes " Underwater" and Higher Job Numbers Show Mixed Economic Results

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The latest number for Americans who owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth has risen from 23%-28%.  In a healthy housing market this number is about 5% of homeowners who are "underwater".  Experts don't expect an improvement in the market for at least another year which will certainly slow down our economy.


On the jobs front, the U.S. April jobs report released last week showed a gain of 244,000 jobs, all in the private sector. This was a much higher number than economists prediction of 185,000. Even though the job gains over the past three months were solid, averaging 233,000 a month, analysts say that 300,000-400,000 new jobs are needed to bring down the current unemployment rate of 9%.


The number of unofficially unemployed workers stood at 13.75 million in April which is up 205,000 from March.  The economy has only recovered a fraction of the 8 million jobs lost during the 2007-2009 Great Recession.  Government payrolls have retracted for the last six months with expectations that this trend will continue as the government payroll shed 24,000 jobs in April due to cuts at state and public agencies. 


The good news is that employment in goods-producing industries increased by 44,000.  Construction payrolls climbed by 5,000 and the manufacturing sector hired 29,000 workers. Business and professional services increased by 51,000, with consulting businesses, computer services and architectural firms all showing solid growth.


The retail industry added 57,100 workers to their payrolls.  Educational, health and the leisure industries also each added jobs.  Even the hard hit construction market saw a small gain in April.


The bad news is that economists believe that the unemployment figure is going to go up as job seekers who had dropped out of the job search begin to start looking for work and who will be counted in the unemployment figures as the economy begins to improve.  Some analysts predict that job losses in the public sector will intensify, along with more teachers getting pink slips as the school year winds down and local governments deal with budget shortfalls.


My prediction is that the unemployment figure will increase as the under employed and the job seekers that sat on the sidelines make a serious attempt to get a job that matches their skills and education.  There are still not enough good paying jobs to match the demand.


My advice for the unemployed is to continue to network within your own network by getting personal introductions at companies they have an interest in.  Take a hard look at your resume and make sure it tells a story of who you are and what value you can offer a company.  It's still a intensively competitive job market.


As far as the housing market, it remains a frustrating issue for those that have lost real equity in their home and who owe more than it's now worth.   I personally am a fan of home ownership and believe the residential real estate market will come back, but not to the values we had in 2002.


Overall, it's still a tenuous economy with inflation already starting to cut into our paychecks.  Food, gas, clothing and restaurants are getting more expensive, so it pays to be cautious on where you spend your money and to save as much as you can, for still a rocky ride.

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