Last week’s economic reporting included readings on construction spending, consumer sentiment, labor sector reports on public and private sector jobs, and national unemployment. Weekly readings for mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Residential Sector Drove June Construction Spending
Construction spending rose by 0.10 percent in June according to the Commerce Department. Analysts expected spending to increase by 0.50 percent, but builders spent less on public sector and non-residential projects. Spending for all construction spending rose at a year-over-year pace of $1.55 trillion. Residential construction rose by 1.10 percent in June, but public-sector spending fell by -1.20 percent and nonresidential construction spending fell by 0.70 percent. Year-over-year residential construction spending rose by 28.80 percent in June; nonresidential construction spending was 6.60 percent lower year-over-year.
Demand for homes continued to exceed the supply of available homes. Builders took advantage of lower lumber prices to ramp up construction, but shortages of affordable entry-level homes continued to challenge first-time and moderate-income home buyers. Although the covid pandemic continued to increase demand for homes, some buyers left the market due to high home prices and few options for available homes. Cash buyers and bidding wars in popular metro areas continued to drive up home prices.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by three basis points to 2.77 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged at 2.10 percent; Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.40 percent and were five basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell to 385,000 initial claims filed from the previous week’s reading of 399,000 new claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims were also lower with 2.93 million continuing claims filed as compared to 3.30 million ongoing claims filed in the previous week.
Low Unemployment Rate Suggests Continued Economic Recovery
Public and private sector jobs showed mixed results in July. ADP reported 330,000 private-sector jobs added in July as compared to 680,000 private-sector jobs added in June. The Labor Department reported 943,000 public and private-sector jobs added in July as compared to its June reading of 938,000 jobs added. The national unemployment rate fell to 5.40 percent in July as compared to June’s reading of 5.90 percent. Analysts expected an unemployment rate of 5.70 percent in July.
This week’s scheduled economic readings include reporting on job openings, inflation, and the University of Michigan’s initial consumer sentiment index for August. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.