Ongoing economic struggles, increased by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes to battle inflation, are taking a toll. The Fed’s latest projections suggest that unemployment will be 4.5% in 2023 and 4.6% both next year and the one after. Remembering that unemployment was 3.5% in March, that is a big jump. And, turning a focus to CRE, unemployment isn’t a good sign.
Fewer people have money for rent, to shop, and otherwise do the spending that represents 68% of GDP and a fundamental driver for the general need to lease space. There’s been an ongoing assumption that the unemployment hits typically come for people with lower incomes, but memories of recessions past—and currently tech layoff patterns—suggest that those nearer the top of the wage and salary ladder can find themselves sent to the curb.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau household pulse survey, taken between March 29 and April 10, shows the latest survey data that asks whether at least one adult in a household had lost a job in the previous four weeks. Bloomberg reported that for households making $200,000 or more annually, the most affluent category, the number was 113,800. That is 6.29 times larger than the 18,100 a year ago. “More than 250,000 adults in such households reported receiving unemployment insurance benefits at some point since June 1, a little more than twice the number reporting receipt of benefits in the last seven days,” the report said.
Another employment metric available in the household pulse is the number of adults in households who had experienced a job loss within the previous four weeks. In the same $200,000 or more household income category, out of roughly 19.2 million 2,248 did not respond and 1,022,163 had lost a job. Subtracting the non-responders out of the total, that means 5.3% of people in that category had lost their jobs.
And, as one might expect historically, that was the low side. The percentage for households making $150,000 to $199,999 was 6.6%. For $100,00 to $149,999, 6.2%. For $75,000 to $99,999, 8.0%. At the next income level down, $50,000 to $74,999, it was 10.0%. And then 13.6% at $35,000 to $49,999, 15.6% for $25,000 to $34,999, and for less than $25,000, 20.1%.
That said, there may be limits to accuracy. The Census Bureau states that the data is experimental and that it’s important to “take caution using estimates based on subpopulations of the data.” Also, “the Census Bureau sent invitations to 1,051,407 households and received a total of 61,927 responses, for a weighted response rate of 5.7%.” That could mean the results are to a degree self-selected and possibly not as representative as would be wished.