Make A Mortgage Rate Plan BEFORE Friday’s Jobs Report

Unemployment Rate 2008-2011Mortgage rates could move higher beginning tomorrow morning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its February jobs report at 8:30 AM ET.

Home buyers and rate shoppers would be wise to take note. The jobs report is almost always a market-mover.

Consider last month.

Although net job creation fell well-short of expectations in January — just 36,000 jobs were added — the national Unemployment Rate dropped to 9.0%, its lowest level in 2 years. The marked improvement surprised economists and sparked inflationary concerns within the investor community.

This, in turn, caused mortgage rates to rise.

In the days immediately following the jobs report’s release, conforming rates jumped 0.375 percent. That’s equivalent to a mortgage payment increase of $22 per month per $100,000 borrowed.

A similar spike could occur tomorrow.

Wall Street scrutinizes job growth because with more working Americans, there’s more consumer spending, and consumer spending accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy. A blow-out number tomorrow would change expectations for the future, and lead rates higher again.

The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008 and 2009 and has barely made 1 million of them back. Tomorrow, analysts expect to see 183,000 jobs created. If the actual reading is lower-than-expected, mortgage rates should fall and home affordability will improve.

Anything else and mortgage rates should rise. Likely by a lot.

Therefore, if you’re shopping for a mortgage right now, consider your risk tolerance. Once markets open tomorrow, you can’t get today’s rates.

Unemployment Rate Drops To Lowest In 2 Years

Non-Farm Payrolls (2009-2011)Americans are getting back to work. Sort of.

This morning, at 8:30 AM ET, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Non-Farm Payrolls report for January 2011. More commonly called “the jobs report”, the government’s data showed a large decrease in the number of working Americans as compared to December, but a sizable drop in the Unemployment Rate.

The job growth figures were much lower than consensus estimates:

  • Expected job growth in January : +148,000 jobs
  • Actual job growth in January : +36,000 jobs

January’s Unemployment Rate surprised analysts, too, but not in a bad way, falling from 9.4 percent in December to 9.0 percent last month. This is the nation’s lowest Unemployment Rate in nearly 2 years.

Today’s jobs report is rough news for home buyers and rate shoppers. Shortly after the report’s release, Wall Street is attributing the low jobs number to “bad weather” and is choosing to focus on the strong Unemployment Rate instead.

U.S. stock futures are now rising ahead of open, an increase that will come at the expense of the bond markets. Indeed, mortgage-backed bonds are losing this morning already.

Conforming mortgage rates are expected to start the day at least +0.125% from Thursday’s close and, if momentum continues, could tack on an additional +0.125% before today’s closing bell.

The government’s report is an excellent example of how important jobs data can be to home affordability — especially in a recovering economy.

The economy shed 7 million jobs between 2008 and 2009 and fewer than 1 million of those were recovered in 2010. It’s a data point Wall Street watches closely because more working Americans means more consumer spending, and more consumer spending means more economic growth. Consumers account for 70% of the U.S. economy, after all.

More workers also means more taxes paid to federal, state and local government, and, in theory, fewer loan charge-offs from banks. These, too, keep the economic engine moving forward, spurring more spending and job growth. 

If you have not yet locked a mortgage rate, consider locking one today. On the heels of today’s jobs data, 30-year fixed rates will scratch at their highest levels of the year.

December’s Job Report : Good For Home Affordability

Non-Farm Payrolls (Jan 2009-Dec 2010)On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls report.

More commonly called “the jobs report”, the government’s data include raw employment figures and the Unemployment Rate.

The jobs report hit the wires at 8:30 AM ET today. It’s making big waves in the mortgage market and may help home affordability for buyers this weekend, and would-be refinancers.

For this month, and for the rest of 2011, employment data will figure big in mortgage markets.

7 million jobs were lost in 2008 and 2009. Fewer than one million jobs were recovered in 2010. For the economy to fully recover, analysts believe that jobs growth is paramount.

Consider how job creation influences the economy:

  1. More jobs means more income and more spending
  2. More spending means more business growth
  3. More business growth means more job creation

It’s a self-reinforcing cycle and, as business grows, the economy expands, pushing stock markets higher. This tends to lead mortgage rates higher, too, because bonds can lose their appeal when stock markets gain.

According to the government, 103,000 jobs were created in December,¬†and¬†October’s and November’s figures were revised higher by a net 50,000 jobs for a total of 153,000 new jobs created. Economists expected a net gain of 135,000.

The Unemployment rate fell to 9.4, its lowest level since mid-2009.

Wall Street is voting with its dollars right now. Mortgage bonds are improving, pointing to slightly lower mortgage rates today.

The December jobs report was “average”, and home affordability is improving.