Friday’s job report did have some impressive numbers. 211,000 jobs gained, the Unemployment level at 4.4% and even more telling, the “Under-Employment Rate,” the U-6 rate fell to 8.6%, the lowest rate since 2007.
The U-6 rate is what most commentators call the “real unemployment rate” because it is not limited to those actively seeking work who have been unemployed for less than a year. That’s the good news. But if you follow some of the other monthly reported economic news along with current news, it is easy to conclude that we are headed down a path consistent with that we saw leading to the economic disaster of the Great Recession.
Consumer credit – credit card debt, auto loans, and student loans – increased $16.43 billion in March, an increase 26.4% higher than the $13 billion predicted for March. Along with this, news reports this week confirmed that subprime lending in the auto industry has reached dangerous levels such that major banks are cutting back on the approvals – a factor that will add to the reduction in new car demand that we’ve witnessed the last several months.
Now add to this news the clear trend to cut back regulations we see from the Trump Administration. The regulatory oversight of the mortgage industry as to loan modifications and assistance to homeowners came to an end last year with the expiration of HAMP. The Administration is also determined to eliminate the effective powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – going so far as to file briefs against the Agency in its fight with PHH Bank, and sending Gary Cohen to convey to the CFPB head Richard Cordray (at dinner) an ultimatum to step down or be forced out.
Here’s the important point. On an individual basis, the jobs report doesn’t mean anything. If you’re ramping up your consumer debt – you need to take action. When the economy falters – we now know the banks will take away available credit on equity lines and credit cards – so you need to make sure you have a cash reserve in advance. Beyond that – if you allow yourself to be stuck with debt and paying interest, month in and month out, at rates of 15% to 29% – you are throwing away any opportunity to save for retirement and future contingencies.
What should you do? We’re hosting a FREE seminar Wednesday, May 24th – There’s no Better Way to Enjoy the Summer than to Become Debt-Free. The seminar focuses on options – to eliminate debt – using bankruptcy and outside of bankruptcy. The key is to eliminate the debt so you can save that money for you. Information is below.