Last week’s economic reporting included readings on inflation, job openings, a speech by Fed Chair Jerome Powell on the economy, and the latest Consumer Sentiment Index from the University of Michigan. Weekly reports on new and continuing jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.
Hiring Surge and Job Separations Ease in August
The U.S. Department of Labor reported fewer job openings in August with 6.49 million job openings reported as compared to July’s reading of 6.70 million jobs available. Analysts noted that this indicated a slowdown in hiring after businesses re-opened when COVID-19 restrictions lapsed. Job separations, which include quits, layoffs. and terminations were also lower with 4.50 million job separations reported in August as compared to 4.99 million separations reported in July.
Fed Chair Says Economy Needs More Fiscal Support
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the U.S. economy could use more support in a speech made to members of the National Association for Business Economics. Mr. Powell said, “Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, which would lead to creating unnecessary hardships for households and businesses.”
Mr.Powell said that if too much assistance was provided, it would not go to waste; he also said that the economic recovery would be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side to support the economy until it is clearly out of the woods. Forecasts of increased COVID-19 cases during fall and winter indicate the importance of additional economic relief measures.
Mortgage Rates Little Changed; as Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported incremental changes in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.87 percent and were one basis point lower. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was one basis pint higher at 2.37 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by one basis point to 2.89 percent. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.20 percent.
New jobless claims fell to 840,000 claims filed as compared to 849,000 initial claims filed in the prior week. Continuing jobless claims also fell last week. 10.98 million continuing jobless claims were filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 11.98 million ongoing jobless claims filed.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, retail sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims filed will also be released.