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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported  that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in July, fell 1.8% after dropping a revised 2.0% in June. Signings are down 8.5% year-over-year. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist stated that “The market may be starting to cool slightly, but at the moment there is not enough supply to match the demand from would-be buyers”. Signings declined month-over-month in three of four U.S. regions led by the Northeast (-6.6%), Midwest (-3.3%), and the South (-0.9%). Contract signings increased in the West (+1.9%). All regions experienced year-over-year declines led by the Northeast (-16.9%), Midwest (-8.5), South (-6.7%), and West (-5.7%). Contract signings are seen as a precursor to housing market health as they convert to existing home sales a month or two later.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index  declined in August to a six-month low 113.8 and follows a downwardly revised 125.1 for July. The Present Situation Index, which is based on consumers’ sentiment of current business conditions and the labor market, declined to 147.3, down from 157.2 in July. The proportion of consumers planning to purchase homes, automobiles, and major appliances all showed cooling. The Expectations Index, which measures consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and the job market dropped to 91.4 as compared to last month’s 103.8 reading. The share of consumers that indicated jobs were plentiful decreased to 54.6%, down slightly from June’s 55.2%. The share of consumers who said jobs were hard to get increased to 11.8%, up from 11.1% last month. The percentage of consumers who said business conditions are “good” dropped to 19.9%, down from 24.6% in July.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported  the unemployment rate dropped slightly in August to 5.2% as only 235,000 jobs were added, this follows July’s upwardly revised 5.4% and 1.053 million jobs. The report represents the smallest job count since January 2021. The number of unemployed decreased to 8.4M in August. Leisure and hospitality which has been a primary contributor to job growth came in flat after increasing by an average of 350K per month over the last 6 months Leisure and hospitality is down some 1.7M jobs since February 2020. Professional Services reported (+74K) for August, (-468K) since February 2020. Manufacturing came in at (+37K), helped by gains in motor vehicle and parts (+24K), and is down (-378K) over February 2020. Transportation and warehousing reported (+53K), showing a slight increase (+22K) over February 2020. Education showed mixed job results for August with private (+40K), state (-21K), and local (-6K). Overall education jobs are down with private (-159K), state (-186K), and local (-220K) as compared to their pre-pandemic levels. The labor force participation rate was little changed at 61.7%, still down from 63.3% in February 2020. The number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job dropped 835K to 5.7M, the figure is up 700K over February 2020.
Upcoming Economic Reports:
Wednesday September 6 – JOLTs Job Openings (July)
Friday September 10 – Producer Price Index (MoM) (August)