Reports

Research Brief: Employment – April 2022

Unemployment rate nears parity with pre-pandemic. Staff counts expanded by 431,000 in March, helping lower the unemployment rate to 3.6 percent — only 10 basis points above the February 2020 measure. Weekly initial jobless claims have also fallen to levels comparable with before the health crisis. Overall, the labor market has generally returned to where it was just about two years prior, which is a more rapid improvement than in previous recessions. It took over… Read More

Research Brief: Return to Office Outlook – April 2022

Omicron a minor setback, but attitudes are shifting. Before the omicron wave, office leasing activity had reached its highest levels since the onset of the pandemic. The space available for sublease also declined, most importantly in central business districts. Omicron interrupted this positive trend, raising vacancy in CBDs by an estimated 30 basis points in the first quarter of 2022, while suburban rates remained stable. The subsequent slowdown in cases is welcome news for office… Read More

Research Brief: Housing Market – 1Q 2022

Home prices climbing, despite a slowdown in buying. For the first time since 2019, the average rate for a 30-year mortgage breached 4 percent in March, then accelerated at an even faster pace, following the Fed’s first interest rate hike in over four years. Higher mortgage rates make houses less affordable, in an environment where elevated prices are already an inhibiting factor. In February, fewer existing homes sold than in any of the previous five… Read More

Research Brief: Retail Sales – March 2022

Retail sales mixed in February. Consumer spending increased a modest 0.3 percent last month, although much of the gain was driven by climbing fuel prices. Excluding energy costs, core retail sales retreated 0.4 percent in February, as widespread inflation eroded some consumption. Spending was nevertheless 15.8 percent above the same level last year, indicative of an overall more active consumer base. In a potential benefit to physical properties, the largest drag last month came from… Read More

Research Brief: Employment – March 2022

Employment growth continues at rapid clip. Employers created 678,000 jobs in February, exceeding the 2021 monthly average of 560,000 positions. The strong opening salvo in hiring for 2022 has lowered the unemployment rate to 3.8 percent. Down from the pandemic peak of 14.7 percent in April 2020, the measure is just 30 basis points above the pre-health crisis benchmark, which in itself was also a historically tight rate. There are nevertheless 1.4 percent fewer people… Read More

Research Brief: Retail Sales – February 2022

Consumers step forward in January. After an early holiday shopping season led to a quieter than normal December, retail spending bounced back last month. Several sectors recorded strong gains, though online retailers and furniture stores posted the largest month-over-month increases at 7.2 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively. Spending was influenced by the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19, with more people staying home. Despite this recent setback, the economy is much more open than it… Read More

Research Brief: Employment – February 2022

Employers tackling labor shortage in new year. The job market continued to recover in the opening month of 2022 as 467,000 jobs were created. While unemployment also rose, the labor force participation rate improved by 30 basis points to 62.2 percent, a post-recession high, as wage increases lured job seekers. Another factor indicative of the tight labor market is the declining number of people who want a full-time job but can only find part-time work.… Read More

Research Brief: Gross Domestic Product 1Q 2022

Economy exceeds expectations in fourth quarter. Annualized gross domestic product jumped 6.9 percent in the final period of last year, largely on the back of an increase in inventories. Personal expenditures contributed nearly 2.3 percent to last quarter’s gain, primarily due to holiday spending that was spread throughout the period. Much of the positive momentum could carry into 2022. While the influence of stimulus on capital markets is fading, the ongoing labor shortage is applying… Read More

Research Brief: Retail Sales – January 2022

Consumers step back in December. Core retail sales dipped 2.5 percent last month as spending that usually occurs closer to the holidays was spread over a longer shopping season. Furthermore, the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 elevated case counts, keeping more people at home. Retail sales, however, are up 16.5 percent from one year ago and consumers still have more than $5 trillion additional funds in savings and money market accounts. The largest decrease occurred… Read More

Research Brief: Employment – January 2022

In rare feat, unemployment drops below 4 percent. Employers added 199,000 personnel to payrolls in December, below the 2021 monthly average of 537,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate fell 30 basis points to 3.9 percent. Of the past 22 years, fewer than three have been spent with sub-4 percent unemployment. The tight labor market is also reflected in the surplus of job openings, last counted at 10.6 million, compared to 6.3 million people activity seeking work.… Read More