The spring home buying season is in full bloom and with home loan rates near historically attractive levels, mortgage application activity picked up last week. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its Market Composite Index, a measure of total loan application volume, rose by 5.3% in the latest week. The refinance index increased by 2%, while the purchase index jumped 9%.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was on Capitol Hill Wednesday testifying on the state of the U.S. economy today in front of the Joint Economic Committee. Ms. Yellen said that due to the fact that inflation remains stable, the labor markets are still not at full force, and disappointing housing activity, monetary accommodation from the Federal Reserve in the form of ultra-low rates, will continue.
The harsh winter put a crimp on worker productivity around the nation early in the first quarter of 2014. U.S. non-farm productivity fell at its fastest pace in a year declining by 1.7% after a 2.3% gain in the final quarter of 2013. Productivity measures hourly output per worker and during the January to march period, worker hours were reduced or they couldn't even get to job sites. Due to a drop in productivity, unit labor costs surged by 4.2% in the quarter, well above the 2.5% expected. Unit labor costs measure the price of labor per single unit of output.
Today is No Socks Day! Free those piggies!