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Jobs report: Surprise!

By Polyana da Costa · Bankrate.com
Friday, October 5, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

The unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 7.8 percent, the lowest level in nearly four years.

In August, the unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1 percent, but that was not perceived as good news because the rate had fallen mostly because workers had given up looking for jobs. The rate is based on the number of people who are actively searching for a job. In September, however, the jobless rate fell even though more people came into the workforce.

Employers added 114,000 new jobs in September, according to the employment report released by the Labor Department Friday morning. That's still far from a healthy economy, which should add at least 150,000 jobs just to keep up with the working-age population growth.

But considering the jobless rate was stuck between 8.3 and 8.1 percent for eight months, the latest jobs report is viewed as good news for the economy and for the president, who has long been criticized for the country's unemployment issues.

There were about 8.8 million jobs lost during the recession, which theoretically ended in June 2009. We've gained about half of those jobs back, but there's still a long way to go.

What does this mean for borrowers?

Normally, the monthly employment report affects mortgage rates. A good report usually pushes rates up, as it signals to investors that the economy is strengthening. A bad report injects fear into the market, and investors buy more U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage bonds, driving rates down.

Since the report was released, bond yields have risen slightly, but there's no need to panic. Mortgage rates remain near historic lows.  Refinancers, you still have a chance to take advantage of the low mortgage rates, but don't expect them to last forever.

Follow me on Twitter @Polyanad.

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3 Comments
Frank
October 08, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Why did you fail to mention the over 300,000 new unemployment claims? One must look at both for a more complete picture.