THE BASIS POINT

Refi Help Coming? Breakdown of Who’s Jobless.

Refi Help Coming?
Is anyone listening to housing problems out there? Maybe: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he expects a U.S. housing regulator in the coming weeks to detail mortgage refinance programs that could help the battered housing market. “My sense is, based on what I’ve seen…it’s going to be meaningful enough to make a difference…(the FHFA) is looking at a range of things and you’ll see more details in a couple of weeks,” Geithner said.

Consumer Protection Bureau Politics
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development has voted to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The committee approved the nomination by a party-line vote of 12-10, with all Republican members voting against, as the Republicans have repeatedly vowed to do until the CFPB is restructured. The nomination must now come to a vote before the full Senate to complete Cordray’s confirmation. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has united the Republican caucus to block the nomination until the CFPB is restructured.

Breakdown of Who’s Jobless
In August, it was initially reported that the U.S. economy created zero net new jobs. The employment gains in professional and business services, along with education and healthcare, were offset by a pullback in employment in the local government and information sectors. And here are today’s jobs figures for September: +103k non-farm payrolls, 9.1% unemployment.

But the labor market woes have not been shared evenly across groups.

Unemployment since the start of the recession has risen disproportionately for men, so much so that the recession has been dubbed by many as a “mancession.” Decomposing the headline unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, joblessness stood at 8.5 percent for women compared to 9.6 percent for men in August. This has come at a time when male participation in the labor force has fallen sharply, accelerating the long-term decline since the mid-1950s. And in this recession historically male industries (construction & manufacturing) have been harder hit than other sectors such as education and health services. There are signs that these unemployment numbers are changing as different sectors expand & contract, but it is interesting to watch.

The Census Bureau notes that differences are also visible when looking at race and ethnicity. “Black joblessness, at 16.7 percent, stands more than 7 percentage points above its prerecession rate and is more than double the unemployment rate for white workers (8.0 percent). Furthermore, unemployment for black teenagers is staggeringly high at 47 percent, making it difficult for this group to gain valuable work experience early in their working years. Unemployment among Hispanics, at 11.3 percent, falls in between the rate for whites and blacks. However, due to a higher participation rate, Hispanics and whites have roughly equal rates of employment relative to their populations at 59 percent. Black employment-to-population is notably lower at 51 percent.”