Job Gains were better than predicted despite a consensus forecast of just 250,000, the economy added 372,000 jobs in June.
This growth is right in line with the gains seen over the last few months. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%. This is just above the lowest level since 1969. Average hourly earnings, an indicator of wage growth, were an impressive 5.1% higher than a year ago. Although it was down from an even larger annual rate of increase of 5.3% last month.
Job Gains Show Labor Market Strength
The JOLTS report measures job openings and labor turnover rates. The latest JOLTS report indicated that the labor market remains very tight. At the end of May, there were a massive 11.3 million job openings. This is down a little from the record high in March, but over 4 million more than in January 2020 prior to the pandemic.
There were 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker. High level of openings reflects a strong labor market, as companies struggle to hire enough workers with the necessary skills. A very large number of employees also willingly left their jobs in January. This signals strength in the labor market. Workers usually quit only if they expect that they can find better jobs.
Job Gains Grew As Did Mortgage Rates
Job gains may mean a stronger labor market, but not necessarily a stronger economy. The minutes from the June 15 Fed meeting released on Wednesday significantly contained no surprises. To help the economy recover from the pandemic, the Fed put in place extremely loose policy measures. With the recent surge in inflation, officials have begun to tighten. The minutes confirmed that fighting inflation is the primary goal now.
Aggressive rate hikes likely will continue, even at the risk of slowing the economy. When the federal funds rate has climbed to a more “neutral” level, meaning it neither boosts nor restrains economic growth. Moreover, officials will evaluate whether to continue tightening to a restrictive stance. The minutes emphasized that the Fed wants to prevent expectations for a long cycle of higher prices from becoming “entrenched.”
Looking A Head At Inflation & Retail Sales
Looking ahead, job gains aren’t the only thing investors are keeping an eye on. They will continue to look for additional Fed guidance. Investors are keeping an eye on the pace of future rate hikes and bond portfolio reduction. Beyond that, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be released on Wednesday. CPI is a monthly inflation indicator that looks at price changes for a range of goods and services. Retail Sales will come out on Friday, a key indicator of the health of the economy. Consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
Job gains and retail sales has investors keeping a close eye on the mortgage markets. Never miss an update with MBSQuoteline. To receive by-the-minute updates on mortgage-backed securities, try our platform free for 14 days.
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