Home Improvements Rise, Inflation Up, Jobs Update

Google home improvement searches are up 50% from last year. 3/4 homeowners surveyed by porch.com reported they had completed major home remodels since covid. Deck construction is up 275%, landscaping hires are up 238%, and fence installation is up 144%. More time at home, extra cash on hand (from not going out/traveling), and low interest rates are cited as contributing factors toward home improvement.

Rates – ended the week near where they started. They remain near historic lows and are down approximately 3/4% from this time last year.

Jobs – over the last 5 weeks the number of people filing for unemployment for the first time has settled just under 1M. While this is down significantly from the recent peak it is still 4-5x pre covid levels and higher than the worst week of the previous recession (0.6M). The total number of people receiving unemployment benefits is 29M or 17% of the work force – much higher than the BLS number of 8.4%.

Inflation – the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.4% in the month of August and year over year is now up 1.3% A 0.4% monthly increase equates to a nearly 5% annual increase which would be a bit alarming and foretell an increase of mortgage rates.

Applications – application volume is up 2.9% from last week. Purchases are up 40% year over year and refinance volume is up 60% from last year.

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