July 2, 2010


They still don't seem to get it: It's not really a recovery without jobs. There was no recovery. There was only the federal government propping up the banking industry, and it didn't really fool anybody:

After showing signs of a fledgling recovery from the worst downturn in decades, the U.S. housing market appears to be heading back toward the doldrums, as the expiration of a lucrative tax credit for buyers and increased uncertainty about the economy cause home sales to plummet.

The sudden weakness in residential real estate has struck nearly every region of the country, according to recent government and industry data, driving down sales of new and previously owned homes alike in May. On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors said an index that measures sales contracts signed on existing homes plunged 30 percent in May, more than twice what analysts had forecast, to the lowest level since the group started tracking the numbers in 2001.

Those sharp declines come despite record-low mortgage rates and historically cheap home prices. The market's renewed fragility highlights concerns about whether the U.S. economy will hurtle back into recession and illustrates the impact of the nation's high unemployment rate, now at 9.7 percent. On Friday, the government will issue jobless figures for June that could signal what is in store for housing and economic growth.

As long as people are without jobs or fear losing their livelihoods, they are unlikely to commit to buying a home and saddling themselves with 30 years of mortgage payments.

"It sounds simplistic but it bears repeating: 'No job = No house,' " Mike Larson, an analyst with Weiss Research, wrote in a note to clients Thursday. "With so many Americans unemployed or underemployed, the housing market is going to keep hurting."

Gee, I wonder how much they pay Mike to come up with insights like that. Is Weiss Research hiring, I wonder?

And here's more bad news -- or maybe "good" bad news, because the administration will find this hard to ignore:

Payrolls declined by 130,000 last month, according to the median estimate of 82 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Private employment, which excludes government jobs, rose for a sixth consecutive month, the survey showed.

The pace of hiring signals it will take years for the world’s largest economy to recover the more than 8 million jobs lost during the recession that began in December 2007. The turmoil in financial markets brought on by the European debt crisis raises the risk that employment will slow, depriving American households of the income needed to maintain spending.

I wouldn't worry. After all, so many of the jobless are considering suicide, it should cut into the jobs-needed number considerably.

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