|There are 2 employment surveys- one which is done via firms, the other via households (HH).|
The firms survey is larger and considered "better". The HH survey is usually used to determine the number of self-employed, but is typically in close agreement with the other.
For quite some time now, the HH survey has diverged radically from the main one. It indicates that more people are working (some 1.8mm) now than BEFORE Bush entered office. These are not huge gains, by historical standards, but it does indicate that incomes are being produced when many are claiming otherwise.
There is still alot of open questions on this survey and what it is showing, but it warrants a review. I know alot of people who are working on their own now, either as consultants or some other manner that isn't consistent with the definition of the primary survey.
The HH survey also seems to support the one thing that has kept the economy afloat over the last 3 years - house purchases. If fewer people were working, it's unlikely the housing market would have been booming to the degree we've seen. Mortgages simply would not have been serviceable, no matter what the interest rate.
On that note, while I expect the Fed MAY raise rates this week, I don't expect it. The Real Estate market seems to finally be having alot of air let out. My hometown, which has done well over the last 4 years (hardly bubbled, but certainly boomed) has seen a steadying, and even a decline in prices at the top end (I'm in the market, so I'm keeping track). Houses in the over $900k range have seen up to 20-25% come off their ask, and they still aren't moving.
In addition, out in Pennsylvania (2 hours west of NYC), a popular rural moving area of Monroe County has seen foreclosures skyrocket.
There are several reasons for rising foreclosures that are unrelated to interest rates, or even bubbles. Misleading sales practices tops the list. Even so, foreclosures are never good for a market. They imply a top has been set...regardless of the reasons for foreclosing.