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The following excerpt was recently published in NAHB’s bi-weekly e-newsletter Eye On the Economy by Chief Economist Robert Dietz: 

store reopens In a surprisingly positive reading for the labor market, recent jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate in May declined to 13.3%. The true unemployment rate is likely closer to 16% due to many who reported being “employed but absent from work” but who were most likely unemployed.

However, even with this technical adjustment, the jobless rate came in well below the 20% rate (or higher) some analysts had forecasted. (NAHB’s forecast called for a 17.8% rate for the second quarter.) This forecasting miss by those predicting a much higher level of unemployment appears to have been based on somewhat unreliable state-level jobless claims data. The unemployment rate for construction workers is currently 15.2%.

Moreover, a job gain of 2.5 million was reported for May; a striking contrast to what many analysts had predicted of a job loss of up to 8 million. Residential construction was among the top sectors in terms of the May turnaround. After posting a job loss of 422,000 in April, home builders and remodelers added 226,000 jobs last month, as housing demand improved.

The reopening of the economy in most states has led to a rapid reversal for the jobs outlook and the prospects for the beginning of a recovery in the third quarter. Housing data indicate the industry will lead the way in such a rebound…

…Historically low interest rates and a more rapid than expected improvement in the labor market should set the stage for a V-shaped recovery for housing, which in turn will provide support for the overall economy as a rebound takes shape in the second half of the year.

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