Last week’s economic reporting included readings on job openings, inflation, and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.
Job Openings Increase as Employers Struggle to Fill Positions
Job openings rose in April according to the Labor Department, but workers were quitting jobs in record numbers. 9.30 million openings were reported as compared to expectations of 8.20 million job openings and 8.30 million job openings reported in March. Increasing job openings indicate a stronger post-pandemic economy as businesses and service providers return to full capacity.
Employers faced multiple obstacles to filling job openings including early retirements taken during the pandemic, difficulty in finding childcare options, and continued fear of covid-19. Generous covid-19 benefits and jobless benefits delayed workers’ return to their jobs. Job openings in restaurants and hotels rose by 349,000 openings in April. About one-third of all job openings were unfilled in April.
In other news, the Consumer Price Index, which tracks inflation, rose by 0.60 percent in May as compared to April’s reading of 0.80 percent growth. Analysts expected a reading of 0.50 percent for May. May’s reading was the fourth consecutive monthly increase in inflation since the pandemic. Higher used-car prices accounted for approximately a third of May’s inflation growth.
The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.70 percent in May and was 3.80 percent higher year-over-year for a 29-year high.
Mortgage Rates and Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell three basis points to 2.96 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by four basis points to 2.23 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.55 percent and were nine basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Initial jobless claims fell last week with 376,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 370,000 new claims and the previous week’s reading of 385,000 first-time claims filed. Continuing jobless claims also fell with 3.50 million ongoing claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 3.76 million continuing claims filed.
The University of Michigan released initial results for its June Consumer Sentiment Index. June’s index reading was 86.4 as compared to the expected reading of 84.4 and May’s index reading of 82.9.
This week’s economic readings include the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index along with Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will release its usual post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.