Job Gains Surge
The big story this week was that job gains in June were significantly higher than expected. Since faster economic growth adds to future inflationary pressures, though, this was negative for mortgage rates, which ended the week higher.
Against a consensus forecast of 210K, the economy added 288K jobs in June, and the figures for April and May were revised higher as well. This was the fifth straight month of job gains above 200K which has not occurred since the late 1990s. The Unemployment Rate declined from 6.3% to 6.1%, the lowest level since September 2008. Average Hourly Earnings, a proxy for wage growth, were 2.0% higher than one year ago. This was a solid report nearly across the board.
Given the surprising strength of recent job gains, the increase in mortgage rates could have been larger. One significant factor in the jobs data has remained favorable for mortgage rates, however. The 2.0% annual rate of wage gains is relatively low by historical standards and creates little concern for future inflation. Fed Chair Yellen has described wage inflation as one of the important indicators of when the Fed needs to raise the fed funds rate. If the pace of wage gains were to increase, then Fed officials would face more pressure to tighten monetary policy.