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The Numbers: Jobs, Mortgages, and Consumer Confidence

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(Photo: © iStockphoto.com/CTRd)

Jean Teller |

CHICAGO — Early September brought a new proposal—the Americans Jobs Act—from President Barack Obama, which includes incentives for small-business owners to aid in cutting taxes and adding employees.

The proposal cuts employer payroll taxes in half, offers a series of tax credits for companies that hire workers who have been unemployed for longer than six months, establishes an “infrastructure bank” to offer loans for private-sector projects, funds a variety of transportation projects, intends to modernize schools and vacant properties, extends unemployment benefits and subsidizes jobs training programs, pumps money into communities for teachers and first responders, and sets up a summer jobs program for teens.

The bipartisan super committee in Congress—tasked with finding ways to reduce the nation’s debt by December—was due to hear the president’s proposals on cutting debt later in the month.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly for the week ending Sept. 3, with more than 9,000 initial claims being filed. The unadjusted total was 346,065 claims, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Mortgage applications for the same week decreased 5.3% from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics Mike Fratantoni said, “The 30-year rate was at its second lowest level in the history of our survey, and the 15-year rate marked a new low in our survey. Despite these rates, however, refinance application volume fell for the third straight week, and is more than 35% below levels at this time last year.”

The U.S. Commerce Department reported a slight increase by 0.3% in personal income in July, slightly below forecasts, and the revised numbers for May and June increased slightly. And consumer spending increased by 0.5%, the largest monthly increase since August 2009, helped by motor vehicle purchases and increased home electricity costs due to hotter weather patterns.

Consumer confidence plunged in August, according to the Surveys of Consumers by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan, as the American public continues to see a renewed recession in the future.

The survey also noted the unprecedented jump in negative comments from the public concerning the government’s economic role and the low rating of economic policies. The August survey reports one-third of all households experienced an income decline, with no increase expected in the year to come; buying plans are being postponed; and the Consumer Sentiment Index of the survey fell a dramatic 25%, making it the largest on record.

About the author

Jean Teller

Contributing Editor, American Trade Magazines

Jean Teller is contributing editor at American Trade Magazines. She can be contacted at jteller@americantrademagazines.com.

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