Thursday, September 23, 2021 5:20 am

Pollack: Ups & downs

The Monday Morning Quarterback
A quick analysis of important economic data released over the last week

By Elliot D. Pollack & Co. | Rose Law Group Reporter

A mix of good and not so good economic data was released this week. Initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped substantially again and is at its lowest level since the start of the pandemic and subsequent recovery. This trend is expected to continue in the coming weeks and months. Job openings continue to climb and reached a new all-time high of 10.9 million openings. Hiring also declined in the month of July which contributed to the new level of openings. Consumer credit increased, mostly on the non-revolving side (home loans, cars, etc.) and inflation continues to persist according to another measure tracking producer prices.

Local data from Information Market reported on the volume and pricing of both new homes and resales in Maricopa County for August. New home sales were up month-to month and total year-to date but were lower than last August by 8.3%. Median new home sale prices ($420,000) were up 12% compared to last August. Resale volume is down slightly for the month but is substantially higher than this time last year. Year-to-date sales volume is 20.6% higher than last year. Also, the median resale price is now $410,000 which represents a 26.2% increase over a year ago.

U.S. Snapshot:

  • Initial claims for unemployment dropped to a recovery low of 310,000 in the week ending September 4th. This is down 10.1% from a week ago and 64.8% from a year ago. As a comparison point, initial claims were averaging 215,000 prior to the start of the pandemic. The decline is expected to continue as job openings are available and additional benefits have ended throughout the country.
  • Job openings continued to increase and reached a new all-time high for the series of 10.9 million in July. Job openings were up 7.4% from a month ago and 62.8% from a year ago. Hiring declined by 160,000 to 6.7 million.
  • U.S. consumer credit increased by $17 billion in July following an increase of $37.9 billion in June. Nonrevolving credit had the biggest share of the increase with $11.5 billion, while revolving credit had a modest increase of $5.6 billion for the month.
  • Strong demand and supply constraints continued to push prices higher. The producer price index (a measure of inflation) had another monthly increase in August. Total final demand increased 0.7% for the month and 8.3% for the year. This suggests that inflation will likely persist.

Arizona Snapshot:

  • According to the latest data from the Information Market, Maricopa County had a total of 10,893 home sales in August, bringing the year-to-date total to 87,121 sales. Through August, the share of new home sales versus resales was 14.1% and 85.9%, respectively.
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