Category: US Economy

Millions of U.S. Homeowners Still Under Water on Mortgages

(Bloomberg)—A staggering number of American homeowners remain under water on their mortgages a decade after the housing bubble burst.

Almost 4.5 million households — or 9.1 percent — owed more than their homes are worth in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to data firm Zillow, with an estimated 713,000 owing at least twice as much as their property’s value.

While the percentage is declining, families in communities with stagnant property values are “trapped in their homes with no easy options to regain equity other than waiting,” said Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist at Zillow.

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    Economy Watch: Inflation Heats Up in May

    The Consumer Price Index increased 0.2 percent in May after rising 0.2 percent in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.8 percent, which is the fastest pace for inflation in about six years.

    The price of gasoline and shelter were the largest factors in the increase in the May all items index, as they were in April, the BLS said. The price of gas increased 1.7 percent for the month more than offsetting declines in some of the other forms of energy. Overall, the cost of energy was up 0.9 percent during May.

    Other sometimes drivers of inflation were more subdued. The cost of medical care rose 0.2 percent in May, while the cost of food was unchanged month-over-month. Without energy or food, the core rate of inflation was also 0.2 percent for the month, but rose 2.2 since the same month of last year.

    If that rate of inflation stays, it will eat up all of the already meager gains that workers have been making recently, which could have an impact on consumer spending. In May, the BLS reported separately, average hourly earnings for all workers rose by 8 cents to $26.92 per hour. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7 percent.

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      Economy Watch: More Americans Traveling Further to Work Than 10 Years Ago

      The ranks of “super commuters” has grown in U.S. metro areas, from from 2.4 percent of all commuters in 2005 to 2.8 percent in 2016, according to a recent Apartment List analysis of Census Bureau data. Nationwide, one in 36 commuters are super commuters, meaning that they spend 90 or more minutes traveling to work each day, either hours on public transportation or slogging through traffic.

      The share of super commuters is highest in expensive metros with strong economies—New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles— and in their surrounding areas. In Stockton, Calif., for instance, 10 percent of commuters travel more than 90 minutes to work each day, the highest share among U.S. metros. New York has a 6.7 percent share and San Francisco has 4.8 percent.

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        Economy Watch: Most Metros Enjoying Lower Unemployment Than a Year Ago

        Unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 319 of the 388 U.S. metro areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

        Nearly concurrent with the national employment report released late last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that unemployment rates were lower in February than a year earlier in 319 of the 388 U.S. metropolitan areas, higher in 48 areas, and unchanged in 21 areas. That is arguably better for commercial real estate absorption than national numbers, since company growth and site selection tends to take place on a local basis.

         

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