Fewer High Paying Jobs Created During Recovery Holds Down Interest Rates

As the rhetoric around the country heats up over increasing minimum wages at the federal, state and local level, it is interesting to note that the proportion of jobs created during the economic recovery  is skewed toward low-paying positions. The National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, recently concluded that total employment has “finally” surpassed its pre-recession level, but white-collar jobs, like accounting and legal work, are now a smaller proportion of the job market. “The average minimum-wage worker is [now] 35 years old” President Obama recently cited in his weekly address in support of raising the Federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Job creation and higher wages lead to additional spending, which results in net increases of GDP and inflation, ultimately leading to higher interest rates. One way the additional spending manifests is via mortgages. Lending standards are declining for the wealthy, which means more high income individuals have access to capital. Bloomberg news reported last week that “Jumbos” (loans of at least $417,000) are one of the “few thriving pieces of an otherwise shrinking mortgage market.” If wages remain depressed where most jobs are being created and borrowing is only available to the wealthiest, then another catalyst will be necessary to see the housing market increase markedly. Until then, any kind of multiplier effect on GDP resulting from broad mortgage origination will remain low. This creates a drag on interest rates that would then need to be overcome by another sector if interest rates are to move higher as bond bears are predicting.