Strong Employment Pushes Mortgage Rates Higher
Joblessness proved to be somewhat higher than expected last week, with the number of new claims for unemployment benefits taking a small upturn. In total, initial claims for state benefits rose by about 25,000 in the week ended February 7th, according to the Labor Department.
However, the underlying trends continue to be indicative of rising strength in the labor market. Over the past three months, over a million jobs have been created, an achievement that hasn’t been reached since 1997. The four-week moving average of unemployment claims actually fell by 3,250 last week, and this statistic is largely considered a better measure of trends in the labor market.
What this adds up to is a strong jobs report, which lends itself to a rise in mortgage rates. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is up. This is still considerably lower than what was observed a year ago.