Thursday, October 12, 2006

Good news young professionals: Housing market slows, job market gets better

The streaking Lehigh Valley housing market slowed to a lumbering gait this summer. It was capped off by an August that featured annual home-price gains shrinking to almost nothing and year-over-year sales falling off a cliff. This is welcome news to first-time home-buyers, who in recent years found it far more costly to move from being a renter to a homeowner.

Elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley economy, the labor market continues to favor job hunters. In August, the Lehigh Valley was home to 340,600 jobs, according to the state labor department. That's an increase of 2.1 percent. By contrast, the state of Pennsylvania added 0.9 percent to its job total over the past year.

That has helped keep the unemployment rate low, despite adding more people to the work force at a rapid pace. The region has added 6,800 people to the labor force over the past year and created 6,900 jobs.

The August unemployment rate was 4.8 percent, up from 4.6 percent in July, but still below the 5 percent level that many economists consider ''full employment.'' That means anybody who wants a job can get one.

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