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Real Estate Market Commentary - March 2012
by Peter L. Zachary, MAI, MRICS

Commentary on the Real Estate Market as of March 2012 By Peter L. Zachary, MAI, MRICS

There is more good news on the job front. On Saturday March 10, 2012, the New York Times had a front page article entitled “Economy Shows Job Gains for a 3rd Month – An Increase of 227,000- Jobless Rate Steady at 8.3%- Consumer’s Mood Improving”. The article stated that three consecutive months of solid employment growth has begun to lift the mood of consumers and the unemployed. The article stated:

“The economy added 227,000 jobs in February", the Labor Department reported Friday, and though the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent, that was largely because nearly half a million people had joined, or resumed, the search for work in hopes their prospects had improved. “There is no real cloud in the silver lining of this morning’s jobs report,” wrote Steven Blitz, chief economist of ITG Investment Research.

The big question was whether such improvement could be sustained, or even accelerate, as is necessary to significantly drive down the unemployment rate. Most projections call for slower economic growth in the first quarter of this year than the last quarter of 2011, and a second report on Friday further reduced expectations. The report, showing a higher-than-expected trade deficit, prompted firms like JPMorgan Chase and Macroeconomic Advisers to lower their growth forecasts for this quarter.

There were job gains across a broad swath of industries, including manufacturing, finance, professional services like law and accounting, hotels and restaurants, and mining. The construction industry lost jobs after two months of gains, and the retail sector shrank. For black men, the jobless rate increased, to 14.3 percent from 12.7 percent, while the biggest employment gains went to whites, black women and, overwhelmingly, college graduates.

President Obama said that more companies were bringing jobs back to the United States and that manufacturing was adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.

Temporary hiring, often a precursor to permanent hiring, increased by 45,000 jobs. “Companies are more and more interested in converting people from temp to full time,” said Tig Gilliam, chief executive of the Adecco Group North America, a staffing company. “That’s a really good indicator.”

The recovery has been here before, only to falter. Last February, March and April saw net gains of more than 200,000 jobs each month. But then the effects of high gas prices, the earthquake in Japan and the resurgence of the fiscal woes in Europe kicked in, slowing job growth to a crawl.

“Everyone got burned last year, from being elated over the better economic data only to have their hopes dashed come spring,” said Ellen Zentner, an economist with Nomura Securities International. “If we can get past April and these trends continue, I’ll breathe easy.”

Let’s hope for the best. I think the worst is behind us.

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