If you’re looking for signs of economic improvements, and by extension, mortgage rate trends, then the news last week that both jobless claims and unemployment were down last week should come as a pleasant surprise.
For the week ending April 17, initial unemployment claims dove by 24,000, falling close to the mark that will signify the economy is on the right rack. Signaling further proof that the unemployment ailment is on the mend, the U.S. Labor Department points out that, at 456,000, the number is 164,000 below the same week in 2009.
Key themes embedded inside the government data were strengthening construction industry numbers in the Midwest (specifically in Kentucky and Iowa), and renewed hiring activity in the manufacturing sector, again mostly in the Midwest. That piece of news has some resiliency — the American Heartland has been laid low in manufacturing job losses, so any sign of improvement there is a good sign for the rest of the country.
Past that, the U.S. Labor Department has a good summary of the week’s employment data, including state-by-state figures (and why the unemployment rate in those states is going up or down). Find it at the Labor Department Web site.
Another big factor that suggests mortgage rates are, by and large, on an upward plane, are gasoline prices. Overall, gas prices are up about 10% in the past 60 days, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Expect that number to rise as the summer travel season kicks in, and (hopefully for the economy) millions of U.S. families take to the highways for some much-needed down time.
As we’ve pointed out in our BankingMyWay mortgage updates, mortgage rates tend to follow the path of gasoline prices, so if history holds true here, expect mortgage rates to rise even further as the weather heats up.