The number of Americans seeking new claims for state unemployment benefits fell sharply to 730,000 in the week ending February 20, a decrease of 111,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the U.S. Labor Department reported. This decline is larger than economists’ forecast of 845,000 new claims — indicates that the labor market is still recovering at a modest pace. Meanwhile, continuing claims, which track the aggregate total of Americans applied for unemployment benefits, fell to 4.4 million. Furthermore, 53 states reported 451,402 workers applied for PUA, a program for the self-employed and gig workers, the report shows.
According to the WSJ report, America’s blue-collar jobs booms as coronavirus pandemic boosts the housing market and high e-commerce sales. On a national level, U.S residential construction, package delivery, and warehousing employment exceed pre-pandemic levels, while overall manufacturing employment was down 5% from February 2020 level. In the residential construction sector, employment rose 1%, while it is down 6.5% across all industries. Indeed, the #1 job site worldwide reported that job openings are up 25.6% in construction compared with last February. Some service-industry jobs, such as retail and restaurants are also expected to grow with better momentum, leading to further economic growth.
U.S. businesses saw a strong increase in the service activity in February –the highest levels in records back to 2009, according to IHS Markit data. The purchasing managers index (PMI) for the U.S. service sector edged up to 58.9 in February reading from January’s 58.3. The reading indicates the biggest increase that is driven by an uptick in the service sector. While, the index for the U.S. manufacturing sector, dropped to 58.5 down from 59.6 in January — the lowest point in two months and economists had projected a 59 reading. The above data shows that the economy is adding a strong quarter to 2021, said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales rose 0.6% in January from the previous month to 6.69 million units. The figure is unexpectedly risen to three months high and beating market forecasts of 6.61 million. The housing growth is primarily driven as Americans sought to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and also demand for bigger space. The report shows the median price of an existing home sold in January rose 14.1% annually to $303,900 — the increase marked 107th straight months of year-over-year gains. Regionally, in the South existing sales rose 3.2% and were 1.9% in the Midwest. In the Northeast, existing-home sales declined 2.2% and in West, fell to 4.4% from December’s figure.
Nearly 62,000 New York City’s middle schoolers are back to their classrooms on Thursday, unlike elementary schools are yet to be reopened. According to the United Federation of Teachers report, two-thirds of the city’s middle school students that is 192,000 middle schoolers decided to continue remote learning through the rest of the school year. N.Y. C’s public schools’ chancellor, Richard Carranza said that education officials are working to reopen some public schools that have remained closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, NYC school’s coronavirus positive rate is 0.58%, reported WSJ. From the month of December, approximately 38,000 of the educators are been vaccinated and 8,000 staff as well, said NYC Mayor De Blasio.
According to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications in the United States decreased 11.4% in the week ending Feb.19, the third consecutive period of decline due to higher mortgage rates. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased 68.5% of total applications from 69.3% week-over-week, Mortgage Bankers Association said. Applications to refinance a home loan dropped 11.3% but it’s 50% higher than a year ago. The data shows that homebuyer Mortgage applications were down 12% but were 7% higher than a year ago. The average fixed 30-year mortgage rate reached 2.81%, the highest since last November, the WSJ reported.
The unemployment rate was 6.3% in the month of January which was an increment from 3.5% in February 2020, according to the data from the U.S. Labor Department. Lael Brainard, the Fed governor have said that the unemployment rate is near to 10% when considering the millions of workers who have left the labor force with unemployment during the pandemic and also due to some classification problems. Less than 10 million people had jobs in the previous month other than before the pandemic. The ratio of employment to population has dropped to 57.5% from 61% from a year ago, the Labor Department reported.