Tomorrow morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the latest Employment Situation Summary, which will include the most current unemployment rate. It will be a horrific number. Many analysts believe unemployment could be greater than 20%. These numbers represent families across the nation that are not sure when (or if) they will return to work. The emotional impact on these households is devastating.
There are, however, some small rays of light shining through on this issue. Here are three:
1. The actual number of unemployed is less than many are reporting
The number of people unemployed is sometimes over-exaggerated. It seems that every newscaster talks about the 40+ million people “currently” unemployed. It is true that, over the last ten weeks, over 40.7 million people have applied for unemployment. It is also true, however, that many of those people have already returned to work or gotten a new job. The actual number of people currently unemployed is 21.1 million. This is still a horrible number, but about half of what is often being reported.
2. Of those still unemployed, most are temporary layoffs
Last month’s unemployment report showed that 90% of those unemployed believe their status is temporary. Friday’s report will probably show a decline in that percentage as the original number was somewhat optimistic. However, a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank showed that employers believe over 75% of job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs. This means 3 out of 4 people should be returning to work as the economy continues to recover.
3. Those on unemployment are receiving assistance
According to a recent study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, 68% of those who are eligible for unemployment insurance receive benefits that exceed lost earnings, with 20% receiving benefits at least twice as large as their lost earnings.
Tomorrow’s report will be difficult to digest. However, as the nation continues to reopen, many of those families who are impacted will be able to return to work.
Last Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their May Employment Situation Summary. Leading up to the release, most experts predicted the unemployment rate would jump up to approximately 20% from the 14.7% rate announced last month.
The experts were shocked.
The Wall Street Journal put it this way:
“The May U.S. jobless rate fell to 13.3% and employers added 2.5 million jobs, blowing Wall Street expectations out of the water: Economists had forecast a loss of 8.3 million jobs and a 19.5% unemployment rate.”
In addition, CNBC revealed:
“The May gain was by far the biggest one-month jobs surge in U.S. history since at least 1939.”
Here are some of the job gains by sector:
- Food Service and Bartenders – 1,400,000
- Construction – 464,000
- Education and Health Services – 424,000
- Retail – 368,000
- Other Services – 272,000
- Manufacturing – 225,000
- Professional Services – 127,000
There’s still a long way to go before the economy fully recovers, as 21 million Americans remain unemployed. That number is down, however, from 23 million just last month. And, of the 21 million in the current report, 73% feel their layoff is temporary. This aligns with a recent Federal Reserve Bank report that showed employers felt 75% of the job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs.
The Employment Situation Summary was definitely a pleasant surprise, and evidence that the country’s economic turnaround is underway. The data also offers a labor-market snapshot from mid-May, when the government conducted its monthly survey of households and businesses. Many states did not open for business until the second half of May. This bodes well for next month’s jobs report.
We cannot rejoice over a report that reveals millions of American families are still without work. We can, however, feel relieved that we are headed in the right direction, and much more quickly than most anticipated.
Note: In its original report, the BLS explained that a misclassification error could have occurred over the last 3 months, starting in March of 2020. Readjusting for this error, the unemployment rate would actually show a drop from 19.7% in April to 16.3% in May. Nobody would say the original report of 13.3% unemployment was a good number, nor is the revised 16.3%. What is a positive move for our country and the economy is the significant drop in the rate from April to May, meaning more people are getting jobs than losing them. That’s the key takeaway.
With more U.S. states reopening for business this summer, and as people start to return to work, we can expect the economy to begin improving. Most expert forecasts indicate this economic recovery will start to happen in the second half of this year. As we get back to work and the financial landscape of the country begins to turn around, many experts also agree that real estate has the potential to lead the way in the recovery process.
According to Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates:
“Housing will fare better than expected during this severe downturn.”
In addition, CNBC notes:
“Mortgage demand from home buyers shows unexpectedly strong and quick recovery…The quick recovery has surprised most forecasters.”
Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Economics and Housing Policy of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says:
“Overall, the data lend evidence to the NAHB forecast that housing will be a leading sector in an eventual economic recovery.”
One of the big reasons why housing has the potential to be such a driving force is the significant impact it has on the local economy. This impact is particularly strong when a newly constructed home is built and sold. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average new home sale has a total economic impact of $88,416. As outlined in the graphic below, this is a combination of income generated from real estate industries, expenditures, and new home construction.With so many unknowns today, especially in the wake of a worldwide pandemic, one known factor is the bright spark the housing market can play in local and national recovery. Buying and selling a home goes well beyond personal growth and satisfaction – it supports our economy as a whole.
According to experts, the economy will begin to recover in the second half of this year. With real estate as a driver, that recovery may start sooner than we think.