WASHINGTON -- The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell again this week to a record low. The eighth record low in a year is attracting few takers because most who can afford to buy or refinance have already done so.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage dipped to 3.88 percent this week, down from the old record of 3.89 percent one week ago.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage ticked up to 3.17 percent from 3.16 percent, which was also a record low. Records for mortgage rates date back to the 1950s.
Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which fell below 1.9 percent this week.
For the past three months, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has hovered near 4 percent. Yet cheap rates on the most popular mortgage option have done little to boost home sales.
High unemployment and scant wage gains have made it harder for many people to qualify for loans. Many don't want to sink money into a home that they fear could lose value over the next few years.
Previously occupied homes are selling just slightly ahead of 2010's dismal pace. New-home sales in 2011 will almost certainly be the worst on records going back half a century.
Builders are hopeful that the low rates could boost sales next year. Low mortgage rates were cited as a key reason the National Association of Home Builders survey of builder sentiment rose strongly in December and January.
So far, the low rates have had minimal impact. Mortgage applications have risen about 6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis over the past four weeks, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But they are coming off extremely low levels.
To calculate the average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday of each week.
The average rates don't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for the 30-year loan rose to 0.8 from 0.7; the average on the 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 0.8.
For the five-year adjustable loan, the average rate was unchanged at 2.82 percent. The average on the one-year adjustable loan fell to 2.74 percent from 2.76 percent.
The average fee on the five-year adjustable loan rose was unchanged at 0.7; the average on the one-year adjustable-rate loan was unchanged at 0.6.
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$50K+ job postings per 100 unemployed: 47 (U.S. avg.: 11)
Manchester weathered the recession with a 6% unemployment rate, and the former mill town’s strong income growth and refurbished business district still make it a promised land for job seekers. Finance and health care are traditionally strong sectors here, with average wages between $64,000 and $75,000 a year. Six percent of city residents work in management positions, pulling in $105,000, on average. Employers such as the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and Elliot Hospital are hiring for high-paid positions in nursing, information technology and management.
The District of Columbia promises job openings in the tens of thousands – and not any old openings, either. The average annual wage in the District runs 40% above the national average, dwarfing even larger, costlier cities such as Boston and New York. Nearly 1 in 10 Washingtonians work in finance, often as government analysts, pulling in more than $83,000 a year. An additional 8% work in management jobs, where average salaries run above $125,000. Government contractors, such as General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman, are hiring.
A former industrial town turned government center, Trenton’s job, salary and technology-sector growth rank among the top 50 in the country. The overlooked capital city boasts something else, too: low competition for high-paying jobs. Bristol Myers Squibb, Princeton University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey are all hiring in the region, with openings for business managers, financial analysts and research scientists. Trenton’s largest industries include finance, health care and computer technology, which collectively employ 20% of the city’s workforce at an average of $75,000 to $87,000 a year.
Boston is the center of New England’s finance, information-technology and health care sectors, which means that jobs in Beantown are both abundant and well-paid. In fact, the city’s most common occupations include registered nurse ($87,630 a year, on average), general manager ($125,400) and software developer ($102,950). Firms such as Genzyme and Tufts Medical Center are currently hiring in the life sciences. And if current patterns hold, Boston’s economy will continue to grow. In 2011, it outpaced other large cities on almost every recovery metric, from unemployment levels to manufacturing job growth.
Baltimore’s booming life-science, international finance and maritime commerce sectors make the port city a prime place to score a competitive job. Johns Hopkins University and its accompanying medical system are the city’s largest employers, with 1 in 10 city residents working in health care or research. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s technology and defense sectors are growing. Mosaic Techologies Group, SAIC and Northrop Grumman are hiring analysts, systems administrators and program managers at starting salaries well over $50,000.
Worcester’s life-science sector is growing fast, and the sudden crop of new labs and offices means many biotech firms are hiring. Genzyme, a global medical research company, posted openings for automation engineers, analytical scientists and manufacturing associates; the UMass Medical Center needs analysts and developers. Roughly 15% of Worcester residents work in health care, life science or information technology. The annual salaries for these jobs fall in the $75,000 to $80,000 range. Managers, who make up 6% of Worcester’s workforce, can expect to make more than $109,000 annually.
Cedar Rapids anchors the Midwestern tech, health care and finance sectors, and there are plenty of high-power firms hiring in all three. Rockwell Collins, an aircraft systems designer and the city’s largest employer, is looking for financial analysts, solutions architects and systems engineers. Aegon and the University of Iowa are also hiring en masse. Health care occupations pay an average of $62,000 a year in Cedar Rapids; computer and tech jobs pull in $65,000. One of every 20 residents works in a management position, earning roughly $95,000 a year.
Anchorage’s remoteness works in job seekers’ favor: Competition for jobs is relatively low, and companies pay top wages to lure talent north. Health care and energy are both top industries, with roughly 6% of the population working in each. CH2M, the international engineering firm, runs a large operation in the area and is currently hiring engineers, analysts and project managers. The Alaska Regional Hospital is looking for RNs. Average salaries for health care and extraction jobs are $89,240 and $60,410, respectively. Wages for all professions skew 16% above the national average.
Despite a recent brush with bankruptcy, Harrisburg continues to be a boomtown for job seekers. Health care and state government, two of the city’s largest employers, always seem to need new blood. WellSpan Health, PinnacleHealth and the Penn State Hershey Medical Center are all hiring in Pennsylvania’s capital for positions ranging from nurse and physical therapist to systems manager. Harrisburg’s health care workers make $66,600 annually, on average. Thirteen percent of the city works in government, where salaries vary but managers can easily make more than $100,000.
Oklahoma City is the place the recession forgot. Even in the darkest days of 2008, the city skimmed by with a 3.7% unemployment rate and saw considerable growth in its medical, education and energy sectors. The pattern still holds: 7% of city residents work in health care, 6% work in education, and 6% work in construction and extraction, often for large oil and gas operations, such as Devon and Chesapeake Energy. In fact, Chesapeake is currently hiring accountants, analysts, project managers and a range of other positions. Salaries average north of $60,000 per year.
Twenty-one Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Twin Cities, and thanks to a strong, diversified local economy, many of them are hiring. Minneapolis boasts vibrant finance, manufacturing, and professional and technical service sectors, as well as a growing export and medical technology industry. UnitedHealth, Target and Picis are all looking for business and systems analysts. General Mills and Xcel Energy are also hiring in the region. Salaries in Minneapolis’s business sector run about $65,000, while technical occupations rake in nearly $80,000 annually.
Landing a lucrative job in Springfield is easy. The city lies on a so-called “Knowledge Corridor” between Southern Massachusetts and Hartford, a region rich in tech companies, top hospitals and big universities. All three fields promise good jobs: Baystate Health is hiring nurses and speech pathologists; Travelers and Cigna Insurance are looking for research analysts and project managers. Salaries run about $70,000 a year and up.