In this week's Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses more of the economic fall out from the April 30 storm and flooding. The destruction of such natural disasters typically generates spending that is funded primarily through insurance claims, individual savings, and FEMA assistance. Earlier this week, President Obama signed a Disaster Declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, clearing the way for federal aid.
Harper says the increase in spending should also mean the creation of new, temporary jobs in conjunction with the rebuilding of state and local roads and repairs at private homes. One issue for employers is the need to train people for the jobs, given the temporary nature of the work.
Looking at the big picture…The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 26,000 last week to 319,000. “The good news is that 26,000 drop is better than 20,000 that economists expected," says Harper.
In checking the latest from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in testimony before a congressional committee, she said she felt pretty good about the economy. According to Harper, it's hard for the economy not to improve, given the depth of its fall. Quarter two, he says, is actually looking pretty good.
There is one area of apparent concern to Yellen is the housing sector, which is off to a slow spring season.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan declined to 4.21 percent this week from 4.29 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.32 percent from 3.38 percent.