Yesterday’s JOLTS report for August showed a jobs market that is still just beginning to mend. Hires were up, and layoffs and discharges were down, which is good, but job openings and voluntary quits both declined.

We are far enough along past the worst of the pandemic jobs losses that it is worthwhile to compare the state of the various JOLTS components with the two previous recoveries from recession bottoms in the series’ histories (this is because the JOLTS data only dates from 2001).

In the two past recoveries:

  • First, layoffs declined
  • Second, hiring rose
  • Third, job openings rose and voluntary quits increased, close to simultaneously

Let’s examine each of those in turn. In each case, I break out 2001-19 in a first graph and then this year in a second.

This first graph compares layoffs and discharges (blue) with the 4-week average of initial jobless claims (red):

Figure 1

You can see that, by the end of the recessions, layoffs were already declining and continued to decline steeply over the next 3-8 months before reaching a “normal” expansion level. The turning point coincides exactly with the much less volatile but more slowly declining level of initial jobless claims.

The same has been the case this year, as layoffs and discharges already declined to their “normal” level in May, while initial jobless claims peaked one to two months later and have been declining (slowly) ever since.

Next, here are hires (red) and job openings (blue):

You can see that actual hires started to increase one to two months before job openings.

This year, both made troughs in April, but hires rebounded sharply in May and June compared with job openings.

Finally, here are quits (green) vs. job openings (blue):

Actual hiring started to rise slightly before quits made a bottom.

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s core machinery orders likely fell in August, a Reuters poll found on Friday, reversing the previous month’s gain as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on business investment.

Worsening earnings have discouraged businesses from investing, with the world third-largest economy only just emerging from its worst post war contraction.

Core machinery orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months, likely slipped 1.0% in August from the previous month, the poll of 17 economists showed. The fall would follow a 6.3% gain in July.

From a year earlier, core orders, which exclude those for ships and electrical utilities, are projected to have fallen 15.6% in August following a 16.2% drop in July.

“A rapid deterioration in corporate earnings and uncertainty over the outlook will prompt firms to refrain from carrying out business investment,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

“There may be IT-related investment by firms going ahead, but overall business investment is expected to be weak.”

The Cabinet Office will release the machinery orders data at 8:50 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 12 Tokyo time (2350 GMT Oct. 11).

The Bank of Japan’s corporate goods price index (CGPI), which measures the prices companies charge each other for goods and services, likely fell 0.5% in September from a year earlier, the poll found, reflecting weak domestic demand.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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A mom, dad, and their daughter standing outside with their arms around each other and looking at their new home.

Image source: Getty Images

Mortgage rates have been remarkably low since the summer, and for that reason alone, many prospective buyers have clamored to purchase homes. They’re being tripped up, however, by soaring prices.

Home prices increased 5.9% nationally in August 2020, according to the CoreLogic Home Price Index, compared to a year prior. We have limited inventory to thank for that. The supply of available homes in August decreased by 17% from the previous year, leading to an uptick in demand and creating a housing market loaded with bidding wars as eager buyers compete to win contracts on the limited inventory.

The result? Many buyers are struggling to find homes, so they may not get to take advantage of the phenomenally low mortgage rates.

Is it worth it to buy a home today?

Locking in a mortgage at a low rate could result in a world of savings — but that assumes you don’t grossly overpay for a home. While home prices climbed 5.9% in August on average, in some parts of the country, there’s an even higher level of inflation in play. So what you save on mortgage interest by snagging a low rate, you’ll pay for with a higher purchase price.

That said, depending on your local housing market, there may, in fact, be some deals. If you find a home with a listing price that’s only slightly elevated, it could be worth it to buy.

Imagine you’re looking at paying an extra $5,000 for a home now (compared to what prices looked like last year). That additional $5,000 only adds $21 a month in principal and interest on your mortgage payment if you snag a 30-year fixed loan at 3%. And given that the 30-year mortgage has been trending even lower than that, it could be

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s government upgraded its assessment of the economy on Wednesday for the first time since May 2019 after a key indicator improved for August, pointing to a gradual recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The index of coincident economic indicators, which measures a range of data including factory output, employment and retail sales numbers, rose a preliminary 1.1 points from the previous month to 79.4 in August, the Cabinet Office said on Wednesday.

Based on the index data, the Cabinet Office said that showed economic activity in the world’s third-largest economy had stopped contracting, an upgrade from its previous view that the economy was “worsening” in July.

“There is a possibility that the index will grow further this year as there is room for exports, notably auto shipments, and consumer spending to recover,” said Koya Miyamae, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

“The economy overall has been picking up after hitting the bottom around May and a gradual recovery is expected to continue.”

The data offers some relief for new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has pledged to contain the coronavirus outbreak and revive Japan’s battered economy.

The report follows the release last month of more upbeat economic outlook from the Bank of Japan, suggesting that no immediate expansion of stimulus was needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Also on Wednesday, the Cabinet Office reported the index of leading economic indicators, which is a gauge of the economy a few months ahead and is compiled using data such as job offers and consumer sentiment, grew 2.1 points to 88.8 from July.

Still, analysts expect the pace of recovery may not be strong enough to recoup losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, underscoring the challenge for policymakers to revive the economy.

Japan’s economy sank deeper into