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The Labor Department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 900,000 for the week ending January 16th , a drop of 26,000 over the previous week’s revised level. The four-week moving average for new claims increased 23,500 to 848,000. Most states showed a drop in unadjusted new claims – including California (-58,655), Texas (-13,890), and New York (-12,212). However, there were states that reported increases – including Arizona (+15,347), Illinois (+13,948), and Maryland (+5,839). Continuing claims (which lags initial claims by one week) measures the total number of individuals still receiving regular state unemployment benefits was 5,054,000 for the week ending January 9th, a drop of 127,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 5,126,250, a decrease of 67,000 from the previous week’s revised average. Workers applying for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (which lags initial claims data by two weeks) was 5,707,397 for the week of January 2nd, down significantly over the previous week’s 7,442,888.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported new residential building permits were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1,709,000 in December , which is 4.5% above November’s revised figure. December’s building permit figure is up 17.3% year over year and at the highest level since 2006. An estimated 1,452,000 housing units were authorized by building permits in 2020 up 4.8% over 2019. December housing starts were up 5.8% over November’s revised figures to a rate of 1,669,000. Single-family housing starts in December were at a rate of 1,338,000, 12% above the revised November figure of 1,195,000. The 12% increase was the eighth straight, the longest in 50 years. Construction climbed in three of four regions, led by a 32.1% increase in the Midwest, with starts in the Northeast showing the only decline, down 34.8%. Privately-owned housing completions were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,417,000 in December, 15.9% above the revised November estimate, and 8.0% above the December 2019 rate of 1,312,000.
The National Association of Realtors reported existing-home sales rose 0.7% in December for a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.76 million homes. Sales in total climbed 22.2% year over year (5.53 million was reported in December 2019). Total year-end sales volume finished at 5.64 million units which is the highest level since 2006. The median price of an existing home was $309,800, a 12.9% increase as compared with December 2019. December’s unsold inventory stood at only 1.07 million homes, down 23% year over year. Unsold inventory is at an all-time low 1.9-month supply (the lowest number of homes since the Realtors began tracking this metric in 1982) with 70% of the homes sold in December 2020 on the market for less than a month.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Wednesday January 27 – Core Durable Goods Orders (MoM) (Dec)
Thursday January 28 – GDP (QoQ) (Q4)