Market Update: Jobs Data Coming Up this Week Means Big Potential for Rate Movement

Blog posted On August 28, 2023

August has been quite the month for mortgage rates. Though we saw a decent recovery earlier in the month, rates have since climbed to the highest level in over two decades. That being said, they’re actually not that much higher than they were last October. And they could trend lower this week if the data from all the jobs reports is on our side. Remember that ‘decent recovery earlier in the month’? That happened after the previous bout of jobs data was released. So cross your fingers for weak jobs data and you might see more buyer-friendly rates by the end of the week.

How does jobs data affect how much I’m paying for my mortgage?

The short (and very generalized) answer is: weaker jobs data = worse economy = better rates. The longer answer requires some more explanation.

  1. Jobs data doesn’t directly set mortgage rates. Neither does the Federal Reserve (the central bank)
  2. The benchmark interest rate, which is controlled by the Federal Reserve, can influence mortgage rate trends. Hence the slight correlation with the benchmark interest rate resting at its highest level in over 20 years and mortgage rates trending around their highest level in over 20 years
  3. The Fed Committee has been closely watching key sets economic data to determine if it will continue raising the benchmark interest rate – one of these sets of data is jobs data
  4. The Fed Committee has indicated that it’s looking for a weaker jobs market before taking its foot off the rate-hike gas pedal

Economists’ predictions & rate reactions

The main event – Friday’s collection of jobs reports known as the employment situation – has various components, but the three most important are average hourly earnings, nonfarm payrolls, and the unemployment rate. Here are the numbers economists are expecting:

  • Average hourly earnings: Expected monthly increase of 0.3%
  • Nonfarm payrolls: Expected monthly increase of 170,000
  • Unemployment rate: Expected level of 3.5%

Why do the ‘expected’ levels matter? Because if the numbers come in higher than expected, it could indicate a stronger economy and push rates higher. If the numbers come in lower than expected, it could lead to lower rate trends.

Also coming up this week…

Aside from the jobs reports, there’s a lot of other action coming up this week.

  • Case-Shiller home price index (home price appreciation): Tuesday
  • Pending home sales (future closings): Wednesday
  • Core PCE inflation (Fed’s preferred inflation gauge): Thursday

If you have any questions about the jobs market, inflation, or how it affects you, let us know.


Sources: MBS Highway, Mortgage News Daily