The econ­omy may have sur­vived this elec­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Joel Naroff Colum­nist

IN­DI­CA­TOR: » Septem­ber Job Open­ings, Mort­gage Delin­quen­cies and Oc­to­ber Small Busi­ness Op­ti­mism. KEY DATA: » Open­ings: +33,000; Hires: -187,000/ Delin­quen­cies (Over Year): -24.8 PER­CENT/ NFIB Op­ti­mism: +0.8 points; Eco­nomic Ex­pec­ta­tions: -7 points. IN A NUT­SHELL: » “The la­bor mar­ket may be tight­en­ing and the hous­ing mar­ket heal­ing, but the elec­tion is wor­ry­ing small busi­ness own­ers.” WHAT IT MEANS: » Hooray, it’s Elec­tion Day and I just got back from vot­ing. It looks like a record turnout in my area. I live in a swing state, where there is also a crit­i­cal Se­nate bat­tle, and a swing county, where there is a key Con­gres­sional seat at stake. In a few hours, I can take off my sound cancel­ing ear­phones, re­place my re­mote’s mute but­ton and once again start watch­ing net­work tele­vi­sion. The deci­bel level and nastiness of the po­lit­i­cal at­tacks has made me skip tele­vi­sion ex­cept for On De­mand, HBO and sta­tions that are too small to bother with. To­day is free­dom for my eyes, ears and mind day.

OK, what about the econ­omy? It is ac­tu­ally pretty good. The Job Open­ings and La­bor Turnover Sur­vey (JOLTS) showed what we all know: There are lots of job open­ings but not a lot of peo­ple to fill those po­si­tions, so hiring is lag­ging. The open­ings rate, which is open­ings com­pared to em­ploy­ment, is slightly be­low the record high. If firms are not list­ing open­ings be­cause they as­sume they will not be

filled, the rate may be ar­ti­fi­cially de­pressed. The key quit rate is also mov­ing up to near record highs. This in­di­cates work­ers are fi­nally feel­ing con­fi­dent about mov­ing from one job to an­other.

The hous­ing mar­ket is close to healed. Home prices are near­ing pre­vi­ous highs na­tion­ally and are above them in a grow­ing num­ber of mar­kets. But more im­por­tantly, the num­ber of dis­tressed homes is near­ing pre-re­ces­sion lev­els. CoreLogic re­ported that the per­cent of homes that are se­ri­ously delin­quent dropped sharply in Septem­ber and now stands at the low­est level since Au­gust 2007. The fore­clo­sure rate is also drop­ping, which makes sense given the de­clin­ing num­ber of homes fac­ing ac­tion. There are just a few states, such as New Jersey and New York, where the per­cent of homes in fore­clo­sure re­mains ex­tremely high. The drop in the num­ber of prob­lem mort­gages is re­duc­ing sup­ply and help­ing drive up prices.

The Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­nesses re­ported that con­fi­dence rose min­i­mally in Oc­to­ber. How­ever, it was pointed out that key de­ci­sions, such as cap­i­tal spend­ing, are be­ing placed on hold be­cause of un­cer­tainty over the elec­tion. Hopes that con­di­tions will im­prove over the next six months plum­meted. MAR­KETS AND FED POL­ICY IM­PLI­CA­TIONS: >> Given this cam­paign, does any­one think that in­vestors will be watch­ing to­day’s num­bers closely? They aren’t trees fall­ing in a for­est, but they aren’t go­ing to make any waves ei­ther (my mind is fried from this elec­tion, so please ex­cuse the mixed metaphors.) But they do add to the grow­ing pile of data the Fed can use to ar­gue for a rate hike.

Joel L. Naroff is pres­i­dent and chief economist of Naroff Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sors. He can be reached at 215-497-9050 or joel@narof­fe­co­nomics. com. On the Web: www. narof­fe­co­nomics.com.

PHO­TOS BY PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST MEDIA

Sta­cie Johns-Fink of GYMGUYZ demon­strates a plat­form power sys­tem for a core work­out at West Goshen Com­mu­nity Park.

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