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  • Writer's pictureJason Tuvia

Shift Toward Pre-Pandemic Hiring Patterns Clearer, Aiding Fed Objectives

The labor market is showing signs of change, and these shifts are reverberating throughout the real estate sector. In this blog post, we'll delve into the evolving dynamics of the labor market, how it impacts inflation and interest rates, and the ripple effects on the real estate investment landscape.

Labor Market Insights: August saw the addition of 187,000 jobs, marking one of the slowest months for hiring during the pandemic recovery period. Factors like Hollywood strikes and the bankruptcy of a major trucking company influenced headcounts in the information and transportation sectors. Even without these one-off events, the labor market is settling into a new normal. Since May, employers have been hiring an average of approximately 150,000 personnel per month, below the monthly average for 2019. Furthermore, the unemployment rate rose to 3.8 percent in August, its highest level in 18 months. As joblessness increases, the number of people voluntarily leaving their roles has declined, indicating a labor market that is growing but gradually loosening.

Inflation and the Federal Reserve: The core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation, has shown a slower rise, climbing just 0.4 percent from May to July. While the annual core PCE inflation rate stood at 4.2 percent in July, if this recent pace continues, it would result in an inflation rate of 2.4 percent for the year, only 40 basis points above the Fed's target. With cooling inflation and a more relaxed labor market, the Federal Open Market Committee has more flexibility in its decision-making. While another interest rate hike is possible, many on Wall Street are leaning toward a hold, and some even speculate about a rate cut as early as December. A stable interest rate environment would send a significant signal to financial markets and property investors.

Rate Stability and Investment Sales: The rapid rise in interest rates, particularly in 2022, has affected investment sales in the commercial real estate market. Transactions above $1 million in the first half of 2023 fell short of recent strong volumes, aligning more with figures from 2015. However, as investors gain confidence in stable interest rates, more deals are expected to move forward. Private buyers have enjoyed reduced competition recently, but this trend could change if larger players re-enter the market.

Impact of Job Creation on Industrial Properties: Recent job trends in the transportation and manufacturing sectors reflect broader industrial sector dynamics. While transportation employment has declined in the past two months, manufacturing jobs have seen an uptick. This mirrors trends such as slower retail sales growth and government support for re-shoring efforts among manufacturers. Despite increased construction, industrial properties continue to perform well. Demand for space is driving higher asking rents, with the national average rate increasing by 14.2 percent in the second quarter, outpacing general inflation.

Healthcare Hiring and Multifamily Outlook: The healthcare and social services sector added over 97,000 jobs last month, outpacing other employment categories. This growth has increased the total headcount in these fields by 2.9 percent for the year and 4.4 percent since 2019. The consistent employment growth in this non-cyclical sector, with roles spanning income levels, is a positive sign for apartment demand. Multifamily properties have seen improved net absorption throughout the year, helping to offset rising vacancy due to robust development. Rent growth across rental classes reinforces the broad-based demand, with Class C properties, which are less impacted by new supply, experiencing the strongest gains.

The evolving labor market has wide-ranging implications for the real estate sector. Understanding these shifts and their impact on inflation, interest rates, and investment sales is crucial for investors, developers, and real estate professionals to make informed decisions in this ever-changing landscape.

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