Construction Activity Edges Up in November on Multi-Family Strength

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • Home building activity, measured by housing permits and starts IMPROVED in November, led by multi-family activity;
  • The seasonally adjusted annual rate of multi-family starts ROSE 21.7 percent while single-family starts FELL 4.6 percent;
  • Permit activity followed the same pattern: permits for single-family homes inched up 0.1 percent while permits for multi-family housing ROSE 14.8 percent; combi9ned, permits were up 5.0 percent;
  • The rate of housing completions though ROSE 0.4 percent, though single-family completions FELL 5.4 percent from October while multi-family completions ROSE 17.2 percent.

Trends:

  • The month-month increase in total permits was the strongest since October 2017;
  • The increase in the pace of multi-family permits was the strongest since March;
  • Single-family starts fell to the lowest level since May 2017.

Data Source: Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development 

Image result for housing permits and starts

Census Bureau data on housing permits and starts provided the appropriate backdrop to Monday’ report the Housing Market Index (aka builder confidence index) tumbled for the second straight month, down to 56 (out of 100), a drop of 12 points or almost 18 percent in the last two months.

The National Association of Home Builders, which compiles the index, attributed the decline to concerns over affordability though prices for lumber – a major component of home building – are near their lowest levels of the year.

The Housing Market Index, NAHB’s yardstick for builder confidence fell to 56, the weakest since May 2015 but still in positive territory. Any reading above 50 is seen as noting confidence.

The NAHB has, in the past few months, excoriated the Administration’s new tariff proposals which affect, among things, lumber prices. At the time the tariffs were announced, the NAHB warned the higher duties “could have major ramifications for the housing industry. With housing costs on the rise, this action translates into a tax increase on housing that will rise even more significantly on Jan. 1 when the tariff rate jumps to 25 percent.”

The tariffs the NAHB came “on top of the current 20 percent tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada. The lumber tariffs have already added thousands of dollars to the price of a typical single-family home.”

Permits and starts were especially hard hit in the West, the scene of devastating forest firms. Permits rose 1.6 percent from October, but year-year are off 11 percent in the region. November starts in the West were down 14.2 percent from October and off 18.4 percent from November 2017,

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am on POTUS Morning Briefing, Sirius-XM 124. You can follow him on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

1st Time Unemployment Claims Plunge

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 206,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended December 8, a DECREASE of 27.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report (231,00 to 233,000).
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims FELL 3,750 to 224,740;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.143 percent of employment, DOWN from 0.146 the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,631,000 for the week ended December 1, DOWN 5,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,636,000 (from 1,631,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 2,500 to 1,665,750.

Trends:

  • The drop in first-time claims was the largest since the week ended January 18 (down 46,000);
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims dropped for the first time in five weeks;
  • The drop in the four-week moving average of 1,665,750 continued claims was the first in five weeks;

Data Source: Department of Labor 

Image result for unemployment

On the heels of Tuesday’s report showing an uptick in both job openings and hires, the weekly report on first-time unemployment insurance claims plunged for the week ended last Saturday.

The report likely reflects seasonal part-time hiring, a trend observed in last week’s Employment Situation report which showed both retail and temp jobs increase. The number of retail jobs increased in November by the largest amount since May and temp jobs were up for the fifth straight month.

The drop in claims in California (6,900 not seasonally adjusted) was a contributing factor. Initial claims in California shot up more than 29,000 one week earlier in the wake of devastating forest fires.

Still, the improvement in claims doesn’t automatically mean the jobs picture has emerged from the doldrums which saw the number of first-time claims jump from 210,000 at the beginning of October to 233,000 two weeks ago. The announcement of major labor layoffs at General Motors may have spooked other employers who see the end of the economic expansion which began in September 2010.

While “recession” has emerged from whispers to a regular part of the economic discussion, trouble signs are hardly hidden. GM’s announcement coupled with business plan changes at Ford put the auto industry in the economic crosshairs and the nation’s other major industry, housing. Continues to struggle, so much so that the Housing Market Index last month plummeted in November to the lowest level in more than two years. The December reading is due next week.

According to both Fortune and Forbes, the tariffs put into effect by the Trump Administration have resulted in cuts in manufacturing.

Falling stock prices could touch off a scramble to improve profits by reducing expenses translated as jobs

You can hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.

1st Time Unemployment Claims Show Modest Dip; Longer Trends Not Encouraging

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 231,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended December 1, a DECREASE of 4.000 from the prior week’s unrevised report
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims ROSE 4,250 to 228,000;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.146 percent of employment, UP from 0.143 the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,631,000 for the week ended November24, DOWN 74,000 from the previous week’s downwardly REVISED 1,705,000 (from 1,710,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 250 to 1,667,000.

Trends:

  • The drop in first-time claims was the first in four weeks;
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims increased for the fourth straight week, the eighth time in the last 10 weeks, to its highest level since April
  • The four-week moving average of 1,667,000 continued claims is the highest level for this average in ten weeks.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for labor market

The labor market has taken on a decidedly different appearance in the last few weeks as noted by Thursday’s report on first-time unemployment insurance claims.

Initial claims, though down in the last week, have increased in three of the last four weeks and substantially, up 3 percent 2 percent and 4 percent before dropping by 2 percent. From mid-October to mid-November, claims rose 15,000, itself a jump of 7 percent and the largest mid-month to mid-month increase in a year.

The four-week moving average of first time claims also increased from mid-October to mid-November, up 9,000 or 4.3 percent to the highest since September 2017.

The increases don’t suggest alarm but taken with the higher levels of continued claims, a surrogate for hiring (more continued claims suggest fewer individuals getting job offers as a way to get off unemployment rolls) and there could be cause for concern.

Those concerns were noted in forecasts for tomorrow’s employment situation report. The median forecast is for 190,000 new payroll jobs, down from the 250,000 new jobs reported for October and below the average number of new jobs each month this year: 213,00

Though the unemployment rate is expected to remain at 3.7 percent, the year-year growth in average hourly earnings is also expected to remain at October 3.0 percent suggesting the tighter labor market is not pushing wages up.

We can expect retail hiring to show an increase in November as stores ramp up for holiday shoppers but given that retail is the lowest paying job sector, an increase in those jobs would likely adversely affect the average growth.

You can hear Mark Lieberman tomorrow (Friday, December 7) at 8:45 am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.

Unemployment Insurance Claims Remain Low; Data Suggest Labor Woes

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 214,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 3 a DECREASE of 1.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report.
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS DOWN 750 to 213,750.
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.137 percent of employment, UNCHANGED from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,623,000 for the week ended October 27, DOWN 8,000 from the previous week’s UNREVISED 1,631,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 7,500 to 1,633,250.

Trends:

  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for 13 straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance is 4.9 percent below the level of a year ago.
  • The 1,623,000 continued claims are the lowest level for continued claims since July 28, 1973, when it was 1,603,000.
  • The 4-week moving average of 1,633,250 continued claims is at the lowest level since August 11, 1973, when it was 1,627,250.

Data Source: Department of Labor 

Image result for unemployment claims

The strong labor picture didn’t help Republicans in the House, but it may have been a factor from the GOP in extending its control of the Senate, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended November 3 continued to hover in a narrow range but permits more significantly continued claims fell again suggesting those on the unemployment rolls are finding jobs.

That said, job openings, according to Tuesday’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dipped slightly at the end of September to just over 7 million, from just under 7.3 million at the end of August. Hires in September dropped as well, 5.7 million in September from 5.9 million in August. The decline in job openings could suggest employment may have peaked as the unemployment rate in October remained at 3.7 percent.

The JOLTS report, taken together with eh claims data, suggests a widening of the skills gap between those available and looking for work and the types of jobs.

In fact, the number of unemployed per job opening rose again in September, up to 11.8 from 1.17 – the third straight monthly increase.

You can hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.

Economy Adds 250K jobs in October; Unemployment Rate Holds at 3.7%; Earnings Up

 

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

 

Highlights

  • Number of payroll jobs INCREASED 250,000 in October
  • Unemployment rate in October REMAINED AT7 percent;
  • Average weekly earnings INCREASED $4.35 in October to $941.85, a 3.3 percent year-year gain, strongest annual increase since August 2010
  • Average hourly earnings GREW 5¢, in October a 3.0 percent annual increase
  • Private sector jobs INCREASED 246,000; Government payrolls were up 4,000;
  • Number of multiple jobholders INCREASED 176,000, suggesting 7 of every 10 new jobs went to individuals who were not already working
  • Prior month job totals were essentially unchanged: the number of new jobs in September was revised down 16,000 to 118,000 but the number of new jobs in August was revised up 16,000 to 286,000;
  • The number of persons unemployed GREW 111,000 to 6.075 million while the number of people employed INCREASED 600,000; The Labor Force, therefore, GREW 711,000;
  • The number of persons not in the labor force fell 487,000;
  • Labor force participation rate IMPROVED to 62.9 percent, the level it had reached in July; the Employment-Population ration (EPOP) GREW to 60.6 percent, highest since January 2009;
  • By sector number of manufacturing jobs INCREASED 32,000; the number of construction jobs was UP 30,000 and the number of healthcare jobs INCREASED 46,700;

Trends:

  • Payroll jobs were up for the 97th straight month
  • Construction jobs reached their highest level since March 2008 (127 months); manufacturing jobs reached their highest level since December 2008;
  • In a statistical quirk, even with revisions, the total number of payroll jobs for September remained at 149,500

Data Source  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Image result for employment situation

If incumbents designed an employment situation report to be released just four days before election day, they couldn’t have come up with a better report than the data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

The BLS report showed the number of jobs up in virtually every industry sector with the unemployment rate remaining at 3.7 percent, an almost 49-year low (the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in December 1969).

Even average weekly earnings rose to a 3.3 percent year-year growth at $941.35, the fastest pace since August 201 (3.4 percent year-year). When earnings started to climb a few months ago, one of the reasons was that the number of low-paying retail and leisure-and-hospitality jobs had been declining and were not pulling down the average. But those two job categories grew 44,400 in September (about one of every six new jobs) while wages jumped.

The improvement should be a perfect platform for incumbents – Republican or Democratic – yet Republicans at least continue to campaign against “job-killing” Obamacare even though since Obamacare became effective in January 2014, the economy has added 12,376,000 jobs – an 8.9 percent increase.

One of the few negatives in the October jobs report was the increase in Black unemployment rate which grew from 6.0 percent in September to 6.2 percent. The improving labor market was also not kind to persons with a college degree: the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.0 percent and for high school graduates with no college rose to 4.0 percent from 3.7 percent.

The strengthening labor market drew 606,000 persons back to the labor force in October an increase of 20,000 over September.

Though Hurrican Michael made landfall in Florida during the reference period for both the household and establishment surveys, it had “no discernible effect” on the surveys. The household survey determines the unemployment rate and the establishment survey provides the count of new jobs. According to the BLS, the response rates for the surveys “were within normal ranges>”

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday morning at 6:20 am on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM 124. You can follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

Economy Adds 250K jobs in October; Unemployment Rate Holds at 3.7%; Earnings Up

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • Number of payroll jobs INCREASED 250,000 in October
  • Unemployment rate in October REMAINED at 3.7 percent;
  • Average weekly earnings INCREASED $4.35 in October to $941.85, a 3.3 percent year-year gain, strongest annual increase since August 2010
  • Average hourly earnings GREW 5¢, in October a 3.0 percent annual increase
  • Private sector jobs INCREASED 246,000; Government payrolls were up 4,000;
  • Number of multiple jobholders INCREASED 176,000, suggesting 7 of every 10 new jobs went to individuals who were not already working
  • Prior month job totals were essentially unchanged: the number of new jobs in September was revised down 16,000 to 118,000 but the number of new jobs in August was revised up 16,000 to 286,000;
  • The number of persons unemployed GREW 111,000 to 6.075 million while the number of persons employed INCREASED 600,000; The Labor Force, therefore, GREW 711,000;
  • The number of persons not in the labor force fell 487,000;
  • Labor force participation rate IMPROVED to 62.9 percent, the level it had reached in July; the Employment-Population ration (EPOP) GREW to 60.6 percent, highest since January 2009;
  • By sector number of manufacturing jobs INCREASED 32,000; the number of construction jobs was UP 30,000 and the number of healthcare jobs INCREASED 46,700;

Trends:

  • Payroll jobs were up for the 97th straight month
  • Construction jobs reached their highest level since March 2008 (127 months); manufacturing jobs reached their highest level since December 2008;
  • In a statistical quirk, even with revisions, the total number of payroll jobs for September remained at 149,500

Data Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Image result for employment situation report

If incumbents designed an employment situation report to be released just four days before election day, they couldn’t have come up with a better report than the data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday.

The BLS report showed the number of jobs up in virtually every industry sector with the unemployment rate remaining at 3.7 percent, an almost 49-year low (the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in December 1969).

Even average weekly earnings rose to a 3.3 percent year-year growth at $941.35, the fastest pace since August 201 (3.4 percent year-year). When earnings started to climb a few months ago, one of the reasons was that the number of low-paying retail and leisure-and-hospitality jobs had been declining and were not pulling down the average. But those two job categories grew 44,400 in September (about one of every six new jobs) while wages jumped.

The improvement should be a perfect platform for incumbents – Republican or Democratic – yet Republicans at least continue to campaign against “job-killing” Obamacare even though since Obamacare became effective in January 2014, the economy has added 12,376,000 jobs – an 8.9 percent increase.

One of the few negatives in the October jobs report was the increase in Black unemployment rate which grew from 6.0 percent in September to 6.2 percent. The improving labor market was also not kind to persons with a college degree: the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.0 percent and for high school graduates with no college rose to 4.0 percent from 3.7 percent.

The strengthening labor market drew 606,000 persons back to the labor force in October an increase of 20,000 over September.

The BLS report noted Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida during the reference period for both household and establishment surveys (the household survey produce the unemployment rate and the establishment survey determines the number of jobs). According to the BLS, the storm “had no discernible effect” on either survey and  respo0nse rates to the surveys “were within normal ranges.”

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday morning at 6:20 am on The Morning Briefing on POTUS on Sirius-XM 124. You can follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

Unemployment Claims Continue to Show Labor Strength

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 214,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended October 20 a DECREASE of 2.000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised report.
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS UP 1,750 to 213,750.
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.137 percent of employment, UP from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,631,000 for the week ended October 20, DOWN 7,000 from the previous week’s downwardly REVISED 1,638,000;
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 6,250 to 1,640,750.

Trends:

  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for eleven straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance is 5.1 percent below the level of a year ago, the largest year-year drop of the year.
  • The 1,640,000 continued claims is the lowest level since July 28, 1973, when it was 1,603,000.
  • The 4-week moving average of 1,653,000 continued claims is the lowest level for this average since August 11, 1973, when it was 1,627,750.

Data Source: Department of Labor 

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

This is just the kind of report Republicans can gloat about as they head into election day: further evidence that the country’s job engine is doing just fine, thank you very much!

That conclusion can be drawn from the data on continued claims for unemployment insurance which continues its decline suggesting jobs are available for those who on the unemployment insurance rolls. It fits perfectly with forecasts that the Employment Situation Report to be released Friday will show an uptick in job creation in October after a disappointing report for September.

BLS reported 190,000 new jobs for September; the consensus is October will show 225,000. The September numbers were, of course, heavily impacted by storms.

Indeed, from mid-September to mid-October, the number of the volatile first-time claims was essentially flat while the more stable four-week moving average rose only slightly, suggesting no change in the 3.7 percent unemployment rate.

Continued claims, which more closely track jobs (as opposed to unemployment) fell sharply from mid-September to mid-October and the four-week moving also dropped.

However, polling suggests the economy writ large is not necessarily the major issue for many voters who, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

You can hear Mark Lieberman tomorrow at 8:45  am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.

Homeownership Rate Inches Up in 3Q to Four Year High

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • Homeownership rate in 3Q 2018 was 64.4 percent, UP from 64.3 percent in 2Q;
  • 182,000 MORE households owned homes in 3Q 2018 than in 2Q, 1.9 million more than in 3Q 2017
  • 93,000 MORE vacant homes for sale in 3Q than in 2Q, 8,000 more than in 3Q 2017

Trends

  • At 64.4 percent, the homeownership rate is at its highest level since 3Q 2914;

 

Image result for homeownership

Despite ongoing weakness in home sales – both new and existing – the nation’s homeownership rate ticked up again in the third quarter, to the highest level in four years.

The increase came even though homeownership tax incentives were capped in the tax changes enacted by Congress last December, mortgage rates have increased, and income growth has been virtually nonexistent.

One contributing factor, ironically, has been the weak sales market which is keeping people in their homes even as a relatively small number of new buyers jump in.

While not the price bubble which burst ten years ago, the bump up in homeownership, without supporting fundamentals feels like another crisis in the making. With rates and other factors clogging the market, homeowners could find themselves trapped and unable to sell as rate increases outpace income growth.

At the same time, builders continue to add to inventory with new construction. Although much of the increase in housing permits and starts has come in multi-family activity, builders continue to build and add to inventory.

Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 am Eastern Time. Follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

 

Case Shiller Home Prices Index Show Weakness in August

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights:

  • Case Shiller CoreLogic 20-city index FELL in August for the first time in almost two years, dropping 0.2 percent;
  • The 10-city index was UP 0.01 percent, the weakest improvement since October 2016 (when it fell 0.26 percent);
  • The national index increased 0.22 percent, weakest growth since February 2017;
  • Index ROSE in 12 of the 20 cities surveyed in August; in July the index improved in 18 cities;
  • For the first time in a year, year-year price growth (in the national index) slipped below 6.0 percent.

Trends:

  • All three index readings remained above their previous peak;
  • The National Index set a record high for the 20th straight month;

Data Source: S&P Case Schiller/Core Logic

Image result for home prices

Growth in home values, measured by the Case Shiller Core Logic Home Price Index reversed itself in August showing the impact of tax changes enacted by Congress last year making homeownership less attractive from a tax standpoint.

Indeed, home price growth according to both the Case-Schiller 10- and 20-city index has been slowing since April. Nationally, home price growth has been falling since May.

The fall in prices though has not stimulated sales. Existing home sales have been down month-month since April, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. The median price of an existing single-family home is down almost six percent in the last three months.  As a result, the number of homes for sale fell for the third straight month in September and the months’ supply of homes for sale rose to 4.4, the highest level since October 2016.

According to the Case-Schiller survey, prices rose 0.5 percent or more from July to August in just three cities – Cleveland, Detroit, and Tampa –compared with July when price growth topped 0.5 percent in six cities.

Prices rose 0.4 percent from July to August in the Midwest, 0.2 percent in the South and were flat in the Northeast. Prices fell 0.4 percent in Western cities which dominate the survey.

Prices rose year-year in all 20 cities but in all 20 cities, but the year-year increase was slower in 13 cities than it had been a month ago.

While the slower price increases could have a positive impact on home sales, those sales still face challenges with increasing mortgage rates as well as the tax law changes.

Hear Mark Lieberman this Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio’s Morning Briefing, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 am Eastern Time. You can follow Mark Lieberman on Twitter at @foxeconomics.

1st Time Unemployment Claims Show Modest Increase from Storm

By Mark Lieberman

Managing Director and Senior Economist

Highlights

  • There were 215,000 1st time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ended October 20 an INCREASE of 5.000 from the prior week’s unrevised report
  • The four-week moving average of first-time claims WAS UNCHANGED at 211,750;
  • Four-week moving average represented 0.136 percent of employment, UNCHANGED from the previous week.
  • The number of continued claims – individuals who had been collecting unemployment insurance — reported on a one-week lag, was 1,636,000 for the week ended October 13, DOWN 5,000 from the previous week’s upwardly REVISED 1,641,000 (from 1,640,000);
  • The four-week moving average of continued claims FELL 6,750 to 1,646,500.

Trends:

  • Four-week moving average of continued claims has now declined for eleven straight weeks
  • The year-to-date average of initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 233,894 – 4.9 percent below the level of a year ago, the largest year-year drop of the year.

Data Source: Department of Labor

Image result for unemployment insurance claims

1st time claims for unemployment insurance recorded only a modest increase nationally in the wake of the storm which devastated Florida and Georgia last week. While seasonally unadjusted claims in Florida and Georgia soared 65 percent, claims in the rest of the country declined, keeping the unemployment rolls essentially flat.

And, continued claims, which reflect hiring, showed an ongoing decline reflecting a solid labor market.

At the same time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in an in-depth analysis of its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey” underscored the skills mismatch in the labor market.

According to the analysis, the average “hires-per-job-opening” was below 1 for each of the last three years (2015-16-17) suggesting a lot of jobs still go begging.

The BLS analysis showed the situation was particularly dire in health care where the ratio of hires to openings was 0.55 in both 2016 and 2017. In financial activities fell to 0.57 in 2017 from 0.59 in 2016.

For all industries, the ratio was above 1 each year from 2007 through 2014.
The BLS analysis is a virtual roadmap to industry sectors having difficulty finding people to hire.

The weekly report on unemployment insurance claims, a different view of labor market tightness, pointed to a further drop in the unemployment rate in the Labor Situation release for October, due out November 2. To the extent labor market conditions have an impact on the midterm elections, the continuing strong numbers could upset Democratic hopes of wresting control of the House (and Senate) from Republicans.

However, polling suggests the economy writ large is not necessarily the major issue for many voters who, according to polls, put health care on the top of their list of issues which could impact their vote.

You can hear Mark Lieberman every Friday at 6:20 am on the Morning Briefing on P.O.T.U.S. radio @sxmpotus, Sirius-XM 124.