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Despite Weak Jobs Report for May, Bach Sees Favorable Real Estate Investment Climate

One of the hazards that Bob Bach, chief economist for Grubb & Ellis, runs into when compiling his “Good News Friday” report each week is that sometimes the news isn’t so good. Sometimes he can’t ignore the angry elephant in the living room.

Last Friday was just such a day. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that nonfarm payroll employment rose by a disappointing 54,000 in May, well below the expectations of 185,000. Worse yet, the Labor Department revised the March and April numbers downward by a combined 39,000.

“These dips are, to some extent, self-correcting. They usually usher in lower interest rates (check) and falling energy prices (likely on the way later this summer), which should re-stimulate growth,” writes Bach.

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate ticked up 10 basis points to 9.1% in May as more discouraged workers re-entered the labor force.

Aside from the loss of 29,000 government jobs in May, private employers added 83,000 jobs, led by professional and business services with 44,000 and the “unstoppable” education and health services sector with 34,000.

“It’s dangerous to put too much reliance on a single month’s worth of data,” wrote Bach. “That said, other indicators also suggest that the economy has lost momentum since the beginning of the year — GDP, the ISM manufacturing index, housing data and consumer confidence.”

Indeed, U.S. GDP rose at an annualized rate of 1.8% in the first quarter of 2011, lower than the 3.1% growth recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Bach sees similarities between current economic trends and the spring and summer of 2010 when the economy decelerated only to regain some momentum later in the year.

In the bigger picture, employers have added 1.8 million net new payroll jobs since the labor market began to grow again in March 2010. “The current combination of moderate job creation and low interest rates creates a favorable climate for the commercial real estate investment market,” writes Bach.

Stronger job growth will inevitably lead to higher interest rates along with upward pressure on capitalization rates and mortgage rates, points out Bach, as the economy adjusts to a stronger rate of growth.
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