We have some positive economic data from December.
The unemployment rate continued to improve in December. Last month, employers added 200,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, which is the lowest since February 2009. Of that growth, the private sector accounted for 212,000 new jobs, including 50,000 hires in the transportation and warehousing sectors, 23,000 in the manufacturing sector, and 17,000 in the construction sector.
Automakers reported their best US sales since 2008. As reported by The Tribune, automobile information website Edmunds.com said that the industry sold 12.8 million new vehicles last year, which is an increase of 10 percent over last year. During the boom years from 1999 through 2007, automakers sold 16 million to 17 million vehicles a year in the US.
Revenue increased 3.3 percent this November and December for retail stores open at least a year. The increase was slightly behind last year’s increase of 3.8 percent. The drop can be attributed to the steep discounts retailers offered to shoppers to get them in the store.
The number of cash home purchases increased 4 percent in 2011, up to 38 percent of all purchases. The increase can be partially attributed to tighter lending standards. In 2006, 19 percent of homes were purchased with cash.
Nationally, the average 30 year fixed rate is at 3.92 percent (3.97 percent APR) and the 15 year fixed is at 3.25 percent (3.40 percent APR). We are able to offer rates as low as 3.5 percent for the 30 year fixed (3.612 percent APR) and 3.0 percent for the 15 year fixed (3.258 percent APR).