July saw a solid jobs number, with 528,000 net new payroll additions. The 20 million jobs lost during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown have been fully recovered. More Americans are working today than at any time in history. The unemployment rate is 3.5%, matching a 50-year low. Companies have increased wages by 6.2%, though that figure is unable to keep up with 9% inflation. “Help Wanted” signs abound. Part of the reason for the worker shortage is due to 3 million more people who aren’t looking for jobs today compared to the number of those looking in March 2020.
Given the comeback in jobs, how are home sales? They are running below the pre-pandemic numbers seen in early 2020 and slightly below the 2019 annual total. Mortgage rates appear to be settling down over the past month at below 6%, with the past week dipping to 4.99%, but they are well above the 3.6% to 3.9% rates in the months before the pandemic. In other words, home sales are more impacted by mortgage rate changes than jobs. But the recently stabilizing mortgage rates suggest home sales will also soon stabilize and are likely to make steady gains in 2023.