News on the employment front is grim and getting grimmer. It’s being widely reported that job losses are the highest they’ve been in 50 years.
Actually though, that’s not quite the whole story. The whole story is worse and explains why we will continue to face growing foreclosure numbers.
Unemployment data is published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The numbers released by the government are important because they’re a measure of economic health, they can impact the stock market and they’re also a reflection of the government and how well its economic policies are working. Not surprisingly, every administration works to tweak the unemployment numbers to put the economy in the best possible light.
The result is that whatever figures we get from the BLS are correctly estimated for whatever it is that we’re estimating. The problem is that we’re not estimating how many people are actually out of work.
It follows that if foreclosures are related to unemployment then you would expect to see above-average unemployment levels in states with high foreclosure levels. In fact, such numbers break out in two ways, first as evidence of where steep foreclosure levels are today and, second, where we might expect rising foreclosure levels in the next few months to a year.
‘In February,’ says the BLS, ‘Michigan again reported the highest jobless rate, 12.0 percent. The states with the next highest rates were South Carolina, 11.0 percent; Oregon, 10.8 percent; North Carolina, 10.7 percent; California and Rhode Island, 10.5 percent each; and Nevada, 10.1 percent.’
Government figures show that unemployment levels in 2008 rose from less than 5 percent to nearly 8 percent, a pattern which is continuing in 2009. Unemployment levels, in turn, can be seen as a leading indicator for foreclosures.
As unemployment levels increase — whether we’re talking about official numbers or not — foreclosure rates also rise because too many homeowners have little or no savings to help them in tough times. No less important, foreclosure levels tend to rise unevenly; that is, areas with a strong job base can expect to see fewer foreclosures over time than areas with steeper unemployment levels.
While extended unemployment benefits and new federal efforts to modify several million loans will help, such programs are no substitute for job creation, steady wages and regular paychecks. Unfortunately, for too many borrowers a missed paycheck or two can lead directly to the loss of a home.
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Thanks for reading this, Roland Lorans.
Roland is a Real Estate Agent at Better Home and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers .
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