Economic Commentary: Jobs, Oil, Real Estate and More

Jobs, Oil, Real Estate, Oh My

And we can add snowstorms and politics. Or should we say “pile them on.” Now we know just how Dorothy must have felt trying to get back to Kansas as she followed the yellow brick road. Certainly this recession was one for the ages. However, the recovery is proving to be just as challenging. Everyone predicted a recovery of “stops and starts” but few could envision all of the factors we would be overcoming. Certainly, jobs and real estate have been the focus for years. With close to 10% of the nation unemployed and 25% of the nation’s real estate underwater, there has been a huge canyon to dig out from. And we are happy to say that jobs and real estate are on the road to recovery—albeit a road of stops and starts. Last week’s employment report gave us a glimpse of what could help us recover much more smoothly, with 192,000 jobs added for a shortened and wintry month of February. The real surprise was the unemployment rate moving below 9.0%. With weekly jobless claims coming down significantly in the past few months, it appears the employment recovery is finally gaining some momentum.

Have you ever noticed that the quicker someone drives, the more it hurts when you hit a pothole? Well, let’s consider the widening world conflict causing oil prices to soar as quite a pothole. How about the government? We spoke about the government becoming a drag on growth for the coming years. But what happens if the government shuts down because Congress can’t agree on a budget solution? That could mean a halt to the most popular home loan programs: Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Rural Housing Service (RHS) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). If that happened even for a few weeks, how much of a pothole would that be for the fledgling housing recovery? Quite a deep and wide one. We are not saying that this will happen–but anyone with any sense can see that we don’t need to be creating deeper potholes in front of our recovery car. Not right now. The government has run out of money to patch them.

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