An Imminent Threat To Low Mortgage Rates : The February Non-Farm Payrolls Report
On the first Friday of each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Non-Farm Payrolls report. Commonly called "the jobs report", Non-Farm Payrolls highlights employment changes across 10 private labor market sectors including insurance and finance.
Wall Street watches Non-Farm Payrolls closely and the data affects domestic mortgage rates. One reason why is that the Federal Reserve's stimulus programs are linked to the U.S. jobs economy, and the Fed has been actively holding today's mortgage rates low.
The February Non-Farm Payrolls will be released Friday. With a better-than-expected read, mortgage rates will rise into Friday afternoon.
The Jobs Market : 7.3 Million Jobs Added Since 2010
The Non-Farms Payrolls report is a broad look at the U.S. labor market. By industry, it shows which economic areas are expanding, and which areas are contracting. It also reports the U.S. unemployment rate.
Non-Farm Payrolls is a monthly Wall Street highlight. Job growth is paramount to economic growth, and economic growth drives investment strategy.
Recently, the jobs report's importance has been magnified. This is because the Federal Reserve is actively stimulating the economy and its programs will continue so long as the economy requires it.
One such program is QE3. Via QE3, the Fed actively suppresses U.S. mortgage rates to below-market levels. The Fed believes low rates are needed because low rates stimulate housing which, in turn, helps to create jobs in construction, retail, and banking.
Low rates spur refinances as well, which increase household savings and contribute to higher levels of consumer spending.
How Jobs Affect The U.S. Housing Market
The U.S. labor market is tightly tied with housing. Jobs provide households with income, confidence and capital. Confident persons are more likely to buy a home or relocate.
As the number of buyers in a market grows, the supply-and-demand curve shifts, which results in higher prices for sellers and the creation of real wealth. This, too, can boost confidence.
Furthermore, employed persons are also more likely to be mortgage-approved. Even before your first day of work, you can get a loan via the offer letter mortgage.
It's no coincidence that as the labor market's returned, so has U.S. housing. Nationally, values are up 15-20% as compared to two years ago and, in some markets including Phoenix and San Francisco, values have increased by nearly twice that amount.
Rising home prices would typically harm a buyer's purchasing power but, because of QE3, rates have stayed low. Affordability is high and buyers are buying.
With a strong jobs report Friday, though, mortgage rates will rise. You'll get less house for your money in a rising rate environment.
Linking Job Growth To QE3
Between 2008-2009, the U.S. economy fell into recession, catalyzed by the failure of Lehman Brothers; the near-collapse of mortgage lending; and the movement of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship by the Federal Home Finance Agency (FHFA).
7.4 million jobs were eliminated.
Since that period, though, hiring has resumed. 7.3 million jobs have been added back to the U.S. economy -- a 99-percent recovery in terms of "employed persons". The jobs are not of equal pay or stature, but an increase in the number of employed persons is a positive for the nation.
Furthermore, unemployment rates have dropped, down more than three-and-a-half points.
Should February's job data show strong, the Fed may make a move to end QE3 sooner than scheduled which would result in higher mortgage rates. This is the reverse of what happened after both December and January's numbers were released. Weak numbers helped mortgage rates fall.
Analyst calls are for as many as 200,000 net new jobs created in February. You may want to lock your mortgage rate before the Friday morning release is made, however. If the actual reading approaches 200,000, mortgage rates are likely to rise.
Are You Ready To Compare Mortgage Rates?
In January, the economy added 113,000 net new jobs. For February, it's expected to show closer to 150,000. Save for a very weak number, mortgage rates should rise on Friday. The jobs report releases at 8:30 AM ET.
Today may be your best chance to get a really low rate. Compare live rates now. The steps are free, fast, and there's no obligation to continue whatsoever. You don't even need your social security number to begin.